Death investigations

Fatal Accident Inquiry Determination published following death of woman in custody

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) notes the conclusion of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of 49-year-old Victoria Teresa Black.

Ms Black died on 11 January 2022 at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert. Ms Black had been an inmate within HMP Cornton Vale, Stirling when she was admitted to the hospital on 8 January 2022 after she was found unconscious in her cell. 

The inquiry was a mandatory inquiry since the death of Ms Black occurred while he was in legal custody.  


The purpose of an inquiry is to establish the circumstances of the death and to consider what steps, if any, may be taken to prevent other deaths in similar circumstances.  

Unlike a criminal trial, a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) seeks to establish the facts surrounding the death and is not a hearing which apportions blame.   

The Procurator Fiscal, who acts in the public interest in such Inquiry, led evidence on the facts and circumstances of Ms Black's death. 

Following the publication of the determination, Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for COPFS said: 

We note and welcome the Sheriff’s determination. 

“The Procurator Fiscal ensured that the full facts and circumstances of Ms Black’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.” 

Additional information

Custody Deaths Unit    

The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service has established a team of specialist lawyers dedicated to investigating deaths in legal custody.   

The creation of the Custody Deaths Unit (CDU) was announced by the Lord Advocate in her evidence to the Justice Committee in late 2021.   

CDU was setup as part of a number of reforms designed to reduce the time it takes to investigate deaths, improve the quality of such investigations, and improve communication with bereaved families.   

For more information on Fatal Accident Inquiries see the Crown’s guide.