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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-23239: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 16 May 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether prison officers receive formal training for dealing with prisoners with mental health problems and, if so, what form this takes.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 30 May 2019

The SPS has introduced additional training for key staff groups and is currently delivering Mental Health First Aid for Young People at HMYOI Polmont as well as providing mental health training for staff who work with women in custody. We intend to evaluate and learn from the impact of such training when introducing a new suite of continuing professional development for Prison Officers from 2020.

Whilst formal mental health training is highly specialised, the Officer Foundation Programme undertaken by all SPS Prison Officers on their initial appointment, includes formal training in Health and Wellbeing, and Suicide Prevention. All Prison Officers undertake refresher training in Suicide Prevention every three years.

Responsibility for the delivery of clinical mental health services transferred from SPS to the NHS on 1 November 2011. NHS Health Boards are responsible for ensuring appropriate mental health provision, including psychiatric and psychological services are available in all prisons and that the needs of the prisoner population are met.

I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. His response is as follows: