Homepage Latest news New consultation – investigating deaths during compulsory care and treatment under mental health laws in Scotland

New consultation – investigating deaths during compulsory care and treatment under mental health laws in Scotland

Publication date: 8 Dec, 2021

The Mental Welfare Commission has begun a public consultation to seek views on proposals for a new system of investigating the deaths of people who, at the time of their death, were subject to compulsory treatment under mental health legislation in Scotland. 

The consultation will run from 8 December 2021 to 15 February 2022. 


Scotland does not currently have a national unified system for investigating deaths of people who are subject to compulsory care and treatment. Different areas have different criteria and different timescales for undertaking investigations.

Following a review, Scottish Government asked the Commission to propose a new system.

Today’s proposals and consultation come after working with external organisations and individuals including families and carers who have experience of the situation.

The new proposals 

In the revised process, the proposal is that the Mental Welfare Commission should take on responsibility for initiating, directing, and quality assuring the process of investigating all deaths during compulsory treatment. This would include cases where a person died within one month of having their compulsory treatment or detention order revoked. It would mean that the Commission would take an active role from the outset in every case. 

The Commission would have a role distilling the learning from these investigations; publishing an annual report to summarise the findings of the investigations; and sharing the main messages to the relevant audiences including local services, families and carers. 

The Commission would also have a role in ensuring that services implement follow-up actions from local investigations, and escalating cases where recommendations were not implemented satisfactorily.

Alison Thomson, executive director (nursing) at the Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“We encourage all those with an interest in this important area of work to read our consultation and give us their views.”

Links to consultation documents

What happens next?

The Mental Welfare Commission will submit the results of the consultation in a report to Scottish Government by 31 March 2022.