Skip to main content

Language: English / GĂ idhlig


Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-25290

  • Asked by: Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Date lodged: 7 February 2024
  • Current status: Answered by Angela Constance on 26 February 2024


To ask the Scottish Government how many drugs deaths there have been in custody (a) in total and (b) as a proportion of total deaths in custody in each of the last five years, also broken down by drug category or categories implicated, including cases involving (i) synthetic opioids (ii) synthetic benzodiazepines and (iii) other synthetic drugs.


I have asked Teresa Medhurst, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. Her response is as follows:

Any death of an individual whilst in the care of the SPS is a tragedy, irrespective of the cause. Unfortunately, there have been 34 deaths in custody between month 2019 and month 2023 confirmed as drug related, either by postmortem or by a Medical Certificate Cause of Death. This is approximately 16% of deaths in custody. SPS do not record drug category or categories implicated in deaths.

All deaths in custody are subject to a Fatal Accident Enquiry, the findings of which are published on the Scottish Courts website.