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Death in Prison Custody Action Group chair felt ‘patronised’ by Scottish Prison Service

THE chair of the Death in Prison Custody Action Group has told a Holyrood committee she felt “patronised” by the Scottish Prison Service.

Gill Imery, a former Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, made the comments as she gave evidence to the Criminal Justice committee of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

She commented on her experiences leading the group tasked in 2022 with implementing the 20 recommendations made in a 2021 review on how to reduce deaths in prisons.

However Ms Imery told MSPs that only five recommendations had been enacted and that she believed the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) had “not wholly embraced that there actually is a need to change.”

Ms Imery told MSPs: “There’s a reticence on the part of the prisons service in terms of actually, genuinely embracing the review and welcoming it and seeing that there really is something that needs to change.

“I have felt slightly humoured at times, patronised at other times, that I don’t understand how difficult it is.”

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar told the Star that Ms Emery “gave a devastating critique of the prison service and their failure to implement the recommendations… but once again they are unaccountable and are refusing to budge.”

He said: “As a result, lives continue to be lost. How many more families have to fight for answers, how many more families must grieve before the Scottish government actually takes action forcing the SPS to act.

“If the SPS can treat someone like Gill in this manner, imagine what contempt they have for prisoners.”

A SPS spokesperson said staff are dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in our society and every death is “a tragedy.”

The Scottish government said: “We are working closely with boards to improve systems of governance and performance monitoring for prison healthcare.”

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