PROPOSALS are being drawn up by Scottish Government experts for the first female-only high security psychiatric hospital, it can be revealed.

The plans follow concerns about an increase in the number of women convicted of serious crimes who are suffering from acute mental health conditions.

Earlier this month the Council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of torture (CPT) published a damning report raising “serious concerns” about the inappropriate imprisonment of “severely mentally ill women” at the country’s only women’s prison Cornton Vale in Stirling.

“One woman refused any human contact, another refused to dress and remained naked every day, another smeared her walls with blood and excrement, one regularly set her hair on fire, another had bitten her arm through the skin and muscle down to the bone,” the report stated.

“Some of the women had rare human contact other than observation through hatches in the cell door. One woman could only be handled by staff with protective clothing due to the risk posed to staff.”

It went on: “The inmate was a double amputee. At the time of the delegation’s visit, her cell was covered in blood, excrement and urine and could only be entered by staff with protective clothing, as she could (and did) assault staff with her prosthetic limbs. As a result, contact between the inmate and staff (including meals) was usually via the hatch in her cell door.

“When the CPT met with her in her cell, it was evident to the delegation’s psychiatrist that she was psychotic and needed treatment in a hospital.”

Disturbed men are transferred to the State Hospital, a high-security psychiatric facility in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, but there is no such facility for women in Scotland.

The nearest unit is Rampton Secure Hospital, Nottinghamshire, where Scottish women are rarely sent due to “jurisdictional complexities”.

Theresa Riggi, who killed her three children in 2010 in Edinburgh in a custody battle with her ex husband is among the women imprisoned in Scotland to be sent to Rampton.

She was sent to the secure facility as part of her 16-year jail sentence, having previously spent time at the medium- security Orchard Clinic in Edinburgh, and also at Cornton Vale Prison. Riggi died of pneumonia at Rampton in 2014.

Speaking to the Sunday National, former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, who led a Scottish Government Commission on Women Offenders in 2012, welcomed plans to establish a high-security psychiatric hospital for women.

“The CPT report makes very grim reading, particularly those cases listed, and I think there is no doubt that Scotland needs to have a facility for medium and serious offenders with very psychotic illnesses.

“It is not acceptable for us to be sending people to Rampton in England when it totally dislocates the family from the patient,” she said.

“There has been a change in the profile of women prisoners since 2012 with more women committing serious offences.

“There is also a more pressing need for it now because of the level of patients with drug-induced psychosis.”

She added:”I understand the Scottish Government has asked Derek Baron, a forensic mental health

pratitioner, to look at establishing a specialist high-security female-only facility. I met him in St Andrew’s House recently and he is looking at the need for a specific facility.”

There are currently 417 women in Scotland’s jails – four times more than the figure recommended by the late Chief Inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather in his report in 1998.

Angiolini’s 2012 report found only 2% of female prisoners had been jailed for serious violent crime, more than half were re-offenders, and around 80% had mental health problems.

It recommended jailing fewer women and addressing the high number who end up in prison as a result of addiction, abuse and poor mental health. The commission added that overcrowding had caused “significant problems” for staff and had made rehabilitation difficult.

The Scottish Government announced a review into the delivery of forensic mental health services in Scotland earlier this year and has opened a call for evidence. The review is expected to report by the end of June 2020.

A spokesman said: “The principal aim is to review the delivery of forensic mental health services in hospitals, prisons and the community and its terms of reference include consideration of the availability, demand and delivery of services to a range of specific client groups, including women.

“The review will take into account and build on previous work in relation to forensic mental health services and is expected to conclude in mid-2020.”

The State Hospital at Carstairs has housed only men since 2011 but since its closure to women there have been calls that it should re-open for those females who need high security care.

Earlier this month the Care Quality Commission found Rampton had too few staff to be safe. It said:”There were not enough staff to provide safe and effective care and treatment for patients. This had a direct impact on patient care and treatment through cancellations of patient activity, the use of restrictive practices and low patient and staff morale.”