Commission calls for extension of Fatal Accident Inquiries to mental health detention

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has written to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee to recommend that a robust system be implemented to investigate deaths in mental health settings.

In its evidence, the Commission reiterates its recommendation that the Scottish Government extend mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAI) to cover deaths in mental health detention in the same way that deaths in prison are investigated.  The Commission supports a role for the Mental Welfare Commission in investigating such deaths in the first instance.

Cathy Asante, Legal Officer for the Commission, said:

“Human rights law establishes that everyone has the right to life. In practice, this means that the state has a duty to protect people’s lives and it also has a duty to investigate people’s deaths, particularly when someone dies in its custody.

“However the specifics of investigations are designed, it is key that they result in a robust system which provides for the investigation of all deaths in mental health detention, and the triggering of an FAI where there are any factors of concern.  Taking steps within the Bill to implement such a system would be a significant step in addressing concerns about the right to life.”


  1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission is an independent public body with a statutory remit to promote and protect all human rights for everyone in Scotland. The Commission is accredited as an ‘A Status’ national human rights institution within the UN system.
  2. The Commission’s written evidence was submitted as part of the Stage 1 consideration of the Scottish Government’s Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Bill.