Only one in 10 fatal accident inquiries into deaths in custody result in any recommendations to improve practice, a research study has found.
A report by a team at the University of Glasgow also found that since the 2016 legislation intended to make the FAI system quicker and fairer, the time taken to complete inquiries has increased and fewer findings are being made about the circumstances of the death.
The study covered 196 deaths in prisons between 2005 and 2019. It reports that between 2005 and 2008, the average time between the death of a person in custody and the publication of the FAI determination was 509 days, but since 2016 the time has increased to almost 700 days.
In nine out 10 cases, there was no finding of a reasonable precaution that could have prevented the death, and no recommendations to improve practice or prevent death.
The report also reveals that families were rarely either present or represented at FAIs.
It concludes by questioning the value of the current FAI system in Scotland.
Sarah Armstrong, Professor of Criminology at Glasgow University, commented: "If you were to design a system to maximise the suffering of families who have lost someone to death in prison, a system that would resist any change and is lacking in public access and transparency because most of the evidence is decided before it even gets to court, it is hard to imagine something more suited to those purposes than what we have right now."
An independent review into deaths in custody led by Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, is expected to report this autumn.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the Government was "determined any lessons that need to be learned will be learned, and that all appropriate agencies must look closely at the outcome of fatal accident inquiries".