Reporting Scotland today at 1.30pm
‘The family of a young woman who took her own life in a young offenders’ institution has called for the Scottish Prison Service to be prosecuted. Her parents say 82 prisoners killed themselves in the last ten years and the rate of suicides is increasing.’
This is not news by any stretch of the imagination. Either the parents have contacted the media, or the media have contacted them. Nothing has actually happened to be reported as news. Using this single case of trauma to then supposedly lead into a wider crisis in the SPS, using utterly unreliable data and carefully attributing it to the parents, is scandalous churnalism.
Why did Reporting Scotland, a well-funded state broadcaster with a royal charter requiring it to inform and to avoid reliance on single sources (see below) unless they are particularly authoritative, not access easily available official statistics?
It took me ten minutes. Here are the official data
Official SPS Suicides Data
Year Suicides Determined
- 2009 6
- 2010 10
- 2011 6
- 2012 8
- 2013 7
- 2014 6
- 2015 4
- 2016 9
- 2017 4
- 2018 All awaiting determination
- 2019 All awaiting determination
There were 60 confirmed cases of suicide in Scottish prisons in the period 2009 to 2018. The rate is clearly NOT increasing. Indeed, you could say it has fallen since 2010.
We should try to witness events and gather information first hand. Where this is not possible, we should talk to first hand sources and, where necessary, corroborate their evidence. We should be reluctant to rely on a single source. If we do rely on a single source, a named on-the-record source is always preferable.
I’ll put in a complaint, sigh.