The Welfare Commission of Scotland has released an official report raising the concerns on the welfare of how women with mental illness problems are being treated whilst in Prison.
The reports come after a staggering 22 suicides within the prisons have been reported since the suicide of Katie Allan back in 2018, this comes even after the Government claimed that every death was a “tragedy”.
“New report calls for major changes.”
When reviewing nine reports of separate reports of the women in prison, the findings were shocking.
One report showed how “one woman had bitten through the skin and muscle of her arm down to the bone; another woman sat in isolation surrounded by blood and faeces on the wall; and a third woman set fire to her own hair in her cell.
These individuals are usually reprimanded within prison for low level offenses. Many of them experiencing domestic violence, poverty, homelessness and trauma.
To add to the mix, the trauma of having recently, suffered the consequences to the pandemic, have been locked up for up to 23 hours a day. And although there are plans are in progress for new buildings, how this will solve anything is still very questionable.
The story of Katie Allan.
The story arose after 22 deaths were noted since the suicide of Katie Dwelling. Katie Allan had killed herself at Polmont Young Offenders Institute back in June 2018 after pleading guilty to drink driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Since then another 22 deaths have sadly taken place and it leaves the question unanswered as to “why”.
It had also been found that thirteen years before Katie’s death, a young offender of the age of just 19 had committed suicide and was described as “a scared wee boy, terrified to go anywhere”. Since then a further eight young people have died by suicide at Polmont.
“Scotland as a society needs to do more”
Although the reports focus on nine cases of individual women. The Mental Welfare Commission Board have stated that Scotland as whole needs to do more to help and support these vulnerable women.
This also now includes the Cornton Vale Prison whose staff are now under siege after the reports findings revealed how the staff within the prison were not fully trained to deal with the mental health needs of the women within the prison.
On announcement of the repot, Claire Lamza, Senior Manager at the Mental Welfare Commission, said “This document opens a window on the lives of some of the most marginalised women in society. It gives some insight into the irreparable damage that is being done to those individuals, and we can only imagine the wider impact on their families and communities.
“We hope this detailed review will be read and acted upon by those who are examining Scotland’s future approach to the best ways to care for mentally unwell people in prison. While changes are being made at Cornton Vale, the wider situation needs to be addressed, and Scotland as a society needs to do more.
‘We agreed with the CPT on many issues, particularly related to the environment of the segregation and reintegration unit.
‘Our review also raises critical questions about missed opportunities with early intervention, pathways from prison to the community, and the revolving door of prison.’