The mother of a teenager who died in a young offenders’ institution has urged a UN committee to examine fatalities in Scottish prisons.
Craig Clifton, 19, died after being left for two days in a cell suffering from diabetic seizures.
His mother, June Watt, has welcomed calls by prison reform campaigners for the UN Committee Against Torture – which will next month conduct a review of the UK’s policies on punishment – to examine issues around prison deaths in Scotland.
The Howard League Scotland has raised concerns over a “significant” number of fatalities in custody, delays in fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) taking place and investigations failing to improve the system.
It comes after worries over the number of deaths of young people in Scotland’s prison, including Katie Allan, 21, and William Lindsay, 16, who last year took their own lives at Polmont.
Mechanic Craig, who died in 2005, had been in Polmont since October 2003 after being convicted of assault.
An FAI documented a catalogue of serious shortcomings at the prison, including how in-house medical staff failed to call a doctor until the youngster had collapsed on the floor.
His mother, who lives in Falkirk, says she was paid £15,000 and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the Scottish Prison Service following his death.
She did not find out the full extent of what happened to him until January this year when details of the FAI, suppressed for more than a decade, were released.
Driving instructor June, 48, said: “I don’t want another mother to go through what I did.
“There have been umpteen deaths since Craig died and perhaps some of these could have been prevented if the truth about what happened to my son had come out and changes were made to the system. How many more deaths will it take before the prison service sits up and says there is a problem?”
A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it was committed to the prompt investigation of deaths, but accepted that in some cases “the time taken to complete a thorough investigation has been too long”.
The Scottish Government said: “Our Mental Health Strategy will see an increase in support for the mental health needs of people detained in prison.”
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