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In October 2018 the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited prisons and police facilities in Scotland. The report of their visit raised issues across the estate but specifically raised serious concerns about five women with mental ill health in HMP Cornton Vale, including concerns about segregation for extended periods and the conditions in which the women were held.

The UK Government’s response was published in October 2019. While action is being taken to build new facilities at Cornton Vale and a review of forensic mental health services has now reported, the serious nature of the CPT’s findings drove the Commission to carry out a retrospective detailed review of the prison health records of the five women whom the CPT had raised concerns about, and to broaden this review to include four further women who were in the prison between 2017 and 2020.

The full report has now been published and highlights a lack of available beds for women in Scotland’s mental health facilities. It also raises questions regarding pathways from prison to the community and missed opportunities with regard to early intervention. The report also detailed examples of women being unable to readily access IPCU beds or secure forensic beds due to pressures within local services and a lack of medium secure spaces for women.

On the back of the Independent Review into the Delivery of Forensic Mental Health Services (2021), this report will be considered by the newly reformed Forensic Network Women’s Forensic Services Short-Life Working Group. The group is now chaired by Angela Wallace (Nurse Director) and will look to take forward and implement recommendations from the 2019 Forensic Network report on Women’s forensic mental health provision in Scotland.


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