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Concern expressed about lack of progress to address deaths in prisons in Scotland


The UK National Preventive Mechanism’s (NPM) Scotland Subgroup expresses its disappointment at the lack of meaningful progress to implement vital recommendations addressing Deaths in Prison Custody. Following oral evidence to the from Gill Imery, External Chair, Oversight of Death in Prison Custody Review Recommendations, to the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday 20 September.

NPM Scotland Subgroup Chair Jim Farish reflected:

“The UK National Preventive Mechanism’s (NPM) Scotland Subgroup echo the disappointment Gill Imery expressed at a lack of progress implementing the recommendations made within the Independent Deaths in Custody Report published two years ago. The fact that two years on from the publication of this important report, only a quarter of the recommendation have been implemented, is both unacceptable and difficult to understand, especially given that the recommendations were fully accepted at the time. The NPM Scotland Subgroup support Gill Imery’s statements regarding concerns about the pace of implementation of recommendations”

In the four years since the Review was commissioned, two years since recommendations were published, only five of 26 recommendations and advisory points have been completed.

The Criminal Justice Committee’s 22nd meeting reviewed the progress being made to improve the response to deaths in custody. The Review was first published in November 2021, and Gill Imery was appointed as External Chair, in April 2022 to oversee progress in the implementation of recommendations. Deaths in custody is a growing concern across the UK. On 6 September, the UK NPM held a roundtable with members and stakeholders from across the health and criminal justice sectors. It discussed, in part, the need for greater scrutiny on healthcare quality and availability in prisons.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Criminal Justice Committee meeting can be viewed here, and the minutes here.
  2. The Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody: progress report – follow up, of 14 December 2022 is available here.
  3. The NPM was established in March 2009 under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). A UN treaty, OPCAT was ratified by the UK in 2003. OPCAT requires states to have in place a ‘national preventive mechanism’ to visit all places of detention and monitor the treatment of and conditions for people deprived of their liberty, as it Is recognised that they are particularly vulnerable to ill-treatment.
  4. The 21 bodies who make up the NPM are:

England and Wales

  • Care Inspectorate Wales Care Quality Commission
  • The Children’s Commissioner for England His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons
  • His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services Healthcare Inspectorate Wales
  • Independent Monitoring Boards Independent Custody Visiting Association Lay Observers
  • Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Service and Skills)

Northern Ireland

  • Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland Independent Monitoring Boards (Northern Ireland)
  • Northern Ireland Policing Board Independent Custody Visiting Scheme The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority


  • Care Inspectorate
  • His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland Independent Custody Visiting Scotland
  • Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Scottish Human Rights Commission

United Kingdom

  • Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation
  • An NPM Scotland Subgroup, which coordinates joint work on issues relating to deprivation of liberty in Scotland, consists of all the NPM members in Scotland.
  • Further guidance on the UK’s obligations under Article 2 ECHR are available here.