Health (in)justice issue: June 2014

Reading options

(1) A good quality print-on-demand paper copy for $11.80 (about £7.00) is also available from HP MagCloud. Sorry that the sums are in dollars, but the printing is done in Europe and delivery times are usually no more than a week from order.
(2) Free download of the complete issue as a .pdf including editorials, content lists, and a back page briefing: Scottish Justice Matters 2:2 The health and (in)justice issue (.pdf 2MB)

You can also download each article bundled with editorial and advertising and with a unique URL ready for citation: keep scrolling!


This issue’s focus on health inequalities and justice has been guest edited by Maggie Mellon and Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science, NHS Health Scotland.

Articles on health (in)justice

Theme editorial (460KB):“In Scotland, the gradient of inequality is as steep as any wealthy western society; the spirit level is furthest from achieving a state of greatest fairness in health, and efficient justice. Justice decision-makers and social policy-makers cannot be indifferent to the effects of their actions on health.”

Health and Justice: common problems, solutions and purpose (200KB) Lesley Graham and Andrew Fraser outline what we know about the poor health of people in prison and police custody.“Imprisonment confers a sharply increased risk of death over and above the poor health record of communities from which most prisoners are drawn”

McCartney McNeillHealth Inequalities and Crime: common causes and solutions? (224KB) Gerry McCartney, consultant with NHS Health Scotland and head of the Scottish Public Health Observatory, and Fergus McNeill, professor of criminology and social work, University of Glasgow, discuss the relationship between health inequalities, crime, and desistance.

Health Services in the Criminal Justice System: modern governance, new approaches and the way forward in Europe (200KB) Paul Hayton, Stefan Enggist, Andrew Fraser outline reforms in the provision of health services to prisoners in Scotland and internationally.

Is the Scottish Prison Service looking after its older and frail prisoners? (219KB) Sarah Couper reports on research into needs. “Frail prisoners present a challenge for Scottish prisons. Numbers may be modest but the daily challenge of coping with disability and supporting those who struggle is a matter of growing importance for individuals and prison managers.”

Prisoners, Prison and Health: back to the future? (188KB) Former prison governor, Dan Gunn, offers a personal perspective and prescription, recognising the importance of health issues in prisons and connections with justice.

Police in Scotland and Mental Health: time for change? (244KB). Bridget McKinnon exposes inadequacies in police first response training and mental health.“Prioritising a standardised and professionalised approach for police officer initial training which incorporates greater awareness of mental health issues beyond legal powers to detain and relevant legislation is surely overdue”.

It is in the interests of justice and health to decriminalise drug users (237KB) Mike McCarron argues that “To make society safer and lives healthier, it is in the interests of both justice and
health to decriminalise drug users.”

Neuroscience in Justice (240KB) Elizabeth Shaw reviews current understanding. “Neuroscience provides new insights into mental capacity, may influence our approach to punishment and may offer methods for reducing reoffending. However, an uncritical approach to neuroscience could distort responsibility assessments and expose offenders to unjustified detention and harmful medication.”

Additional resources on our health and justice in Scotland Pinterest board.

Current issues

Taking an evidence-based approach to funding criminal justice projects (215KB) Over the last eight years, The Robertson Trust has invested over £7 million in criminal justice projects across Scotland. Christine Scullion outlines how the Trust has become an evidence-based funder and some of the learning from funding and evaluating projects.

The Great Corroboration Debate (206KB) John Blackie explains the arguments relating to the proposed and highly controversial reform of corroboration evidence. “The trouble is that this form of dispute cannot provide the answer as both sides are inevitably right”

The Alternatives to Violence Project in Scotland (392KB) Des Fik on the AVP, its values and services in Scotland.”More than this however, Alternatives to Violence is quietly but unashamedly a social movement that dares to envision a non-violent society.”


The Arts and Imprisonment: some reflections on the Barlinnie Special Unit (267KB) Mike Nellis considers the Barlinnie Special Unit, influences and closure. “Granted, no one really saw closure coming.”


Restorative Justice: even for rape? (223KB) Karin Sten Madsen of Copenhagen, suggests that agencies should be open to the possibility of a restorative process following sexual assault. “It is however important to recognise that the restorative dialogues are not a way to end or reach closure of a traumatic experience, nor an option for all women, but it is a step that some women find helpful to take in regaining meaning and dignity in their lives”.


Recovery Position: Nancy Loucks interviews Oliver Aldridge (199KB) A renowned expert in the field of addiction medicine, Dr Aldridge is the Medical Lead for Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO) Services.

A day in the life . . .

Nicola McCloskey on a typical day with Sacro’s “Another Way” service for sex workers (198KB)It is particularly important for women to link in with health services, as many present with vast unmet health needs.”

Take 5

Take Five (218KB) In just 300 words MSPs MacAskill, Mitchell, McInnes, Pearson and Harvie respond to the question “Children born into the areas of Scotland with the worst health, housing, employment and other inequalities are also likely to experience higher rates of crime and victimisation, particularly associated with alcohol and drug abuse. What would your top priorities be in tackling this inequality?”


Attack of the Killer Stats: how shocking numbers both help and hurt (191KB) Sarah Armstrong’s critical perspectives on statistics turns to those killer stats and unpicks them, with special reference to deprivation and imprisonment data.“The power of the killer stat contains also a danger. They lock in certain ideas and associations, telling us something we did not know but then making it difficult to understand the problem in any other terms. Can Americans hear the word ‘prisoner’ without visualising a black face? Can Scots do so without seeing a ‘poor’ person?”

Book reviews

John H McKendrick, Gerry Mooney, John Dickie, Gill Scott and Peter Kelly (2014) Poverty in Scotland 2014: the independence referendum and beyond. (194KB) Vikki McCall reviews.

Ioan Durnescu and Fergus McNeill (eds) (2014) Understanding Penal Practice (211KB) Dinah Aitken reviews.

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