Fatal accident inquiry into custody deaths to start in new year

An agreement was reached which will see the inquiry into the deaths of two young people at Polmont Young Offenders Institution start in January.

Fatal accident inquiry into custody deaths set to start in new year Contributed

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) is set to go ahead in the new year into the deaths of two young people who took their own lives at a young offenders institution four months apart.

The probe into the deaths of Katie Allan, 21, and William Lindsay, 16, who took their own lives at Polmont Young Offenders Institution, can begin in January after lawyers reached an agreement in court.

Ms Allan died in June 2018 while serving a sentence for a driving offence, and her parents Stuart and Linda Allan have campaigned for five years for an FAI to be held.

Mr Lindsay died in October the same year, two days after he was remanded at the facility.

Lawyers representing all parties concerned in the inquiry, including NHS North Valley, agreed at a preliminary hearing at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday three joint minutes would be signed off by the time the inquiry comes around next year.

Lead counsel for the Allan family, Frances McMenamin, told sheriff Simon Collins no further witnesses or productions would be brought before the court other than those already known to it through earlier hearings.

“We are ready to begin on January 8 and there will be no more witnesses and no productions,” she said. “We are content to sign the joint minutes available today.”

Isla Davies, for NHS Forth Valley, told the court she needed more time to consider the content of one of the three joint minutes but assured sheriff Collins they would be signed off by the end of the day.

The inquiry will explore the circumstances of both deaths at Polmont, with particular focus on the Scottish Prison Service’s “Talk To Me” strategy in relation to the prevention of suicide in prison.

The purpose of an FAI includes determining the cause of death, the circumstances in which the deaths occurred, and to establish what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

An earlier preliminary hearing was told Ms Allan’s family want Crown immunity to be lifted from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) for the inquiry.

Mental health nurses are expected to be called to give evidence and a manager from the SPS will be asked to identify changes in policy, the court heard.

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