Homepage Policy and research Deaths in Detention Reviews

Deaths in Detention Reviews

Note: work on this project is ongoing during the current coronavirus situation, with staff working remotely.

Following a wider government review, the Scottish Ministers specifically asked us to

…develop a system for investigating all deaths of patients who, at the time of death, were subject to an order under either the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 or part VI of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (whether in hospital or in the community, including those who had their detention suspended).

Why and how

When legislative changes were being made through the Mental Health Act 2015, concerns were raised with Ministers that there was not a consistent approach across Scotland to decisions or procedures on whether to review, and how to review, deaths of people who were being detained for care and treatment under these Acts.

While these decisions will always be taken on an individual basis, depending on the circumstances of a person’s death, Ministers wish all Scottish authorities to work to the same system.  

Before recommending a new system, we firstly want to hear about how the process works now. We will hear from a range of organisations, including health boards, the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).   

A vital part of the project will be listening to the personal experience of families and friends. We want to speak to families and carers who may have lost someone in the last five years (from April 2014) who was detained for care and treatment for their mental ill health at the time of their death. 

This project should be completed in June 2021. You can see the timescales below, which include a number of opportunities to give us your views.

The new system, once approved by Ministers, will be adopted by all of Scotland’s NHS health boards, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission.

Project timescales

This is what we are hoping to do and when over the next 18 months for the Deaths in Detention Reviews project.

October 2019 – December 2020  

During this time we will focus on current systems and practices, and the experience of families and carers. Amongst our connections with professional organisations we will:

  • Work closely with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Implementation Group (section 37 review) and the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. 
  • Clarify how information on all deaths of people who have been detained for the care and treatment of their mental health are currently being recorded and reported.
  • Examine data from the last five years about all such deaths in detention. 

We will make contact with families and carers of people who have died while being detained, and we will seek to raise awareness of this project throughout this period so that others can contact us.

We hope to host a ‘Listening Day’ to hear the views and experiences of bereaved families and carers in autumn 2020 [May 2020 date cancelled]. You can find out more about this and other ways to get in touch with us below. There will be opportunities for families and carers to meet with us throughout this project, individually or in small groups.  

January 2021 – May 2021

We aim to publish a draft report on the new system by Spring 2021, and will spend this phase sharing and discussing that draft system widely, with professional organisations and with families and carers. This will be another opportunity for us to hear the views of those affected.   

May 2021 – June 2021    

We will produce a proposed revised system, and deliver a business case and a plan for implementing that system across Scotland to Ministers. 

Family and carer experience

If someone you know has died in the last five years whilst detained (subject to an order) under the Mental Health Act or the Criminal Procedures Act we really want to speak to you. 

We understand that this might be very hard for you and we would want to help you as much as we can. 

There are lots of ways you can get in touch with us. 

  • You can complete this form and send it to us by email or in the post. We will then get in touch with you to find out when would be a good time to talk to us.
    Please read our privacy statement.
    Download the form here.
  • You can email us at mwc.review@nhs.net
  • You can call us to arrange a time to talk,
    on (0131) 313 8777
    (ask for Lynn McBean in the DIDR team).