Progress report on Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody

The Scottish Human Rights Commission, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland and Families Outside welcome the follow up progress report into the Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody (“the Review”), published today and authored by External Chair Gillian Imery.

Read the full progress report on the Scottish Government website.

The Review was published on 30 November 2021 and was co-chaired by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Chief Executive of Families Outside, following two years of research, analysis and engagement with families affected by deaths in custody, as well as prison and NHS staff.

Framed around Scotland’s human rights obligations, the Review’s key recommendation was that an independent body should carry out an investigation into every death in custody in Scotland. The Review made 19 further recommendations and six advisory points.  All of these were accepted in principle by the Scottish Government.

Slow progress

The report makes clear that the pace of progress in implementing several of the recommendations has been slow. While we understand that implementing recommendations that require complex, multi-agency cooperation can take time, the co-chairs share Gillian Imery’s concern that one year after publication of the Review, only three recommendations have been completed and one is partially complete.

While we are pleased to see the commitment to involving families has been widely supported in the response to the Review, we agree this could have happened earlier in the process. We know that families who have suffered the tragedy of losing a loved one in custody may be deeply disappointed by the report’s findings.

We will now digest the report in full and look forward to seeing tangible evidence of improved progress on implementation. 


Media contacts: Judy Fladmark on email or mobile 07880 398530

Notes to editors:
1. Read the full progress report on the Scottish Government website.

2. Read the Scottish Human Rights Commission news item on the Independent Review into the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody in November 2021 on our website.

3. Read the full Independent Review of the Response to Deaths In Prison Custody on the HMIPS website.