Death investigations

Fatal Accident Inquiry Determination published following prisoner’s death

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) notes the conclusion of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of David Nisbet Welch in HMP Edinburgh on 14 February 2021.

The inquiry was a mandatory inquiry since the death of Mr Welch 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 Inquiries (FAI) seeks to establish the facts surrounding the death and is not a hearing which apportions blame.  

The Procurator Fiscal led evidence on the facts and circumstances of Mr Welch’s death. This included evidence of the steps taken by the Scottish Prison Service to improve the system of working by providing for refresher training courses for residential officers. 

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 facts and circumstances of Mr Welch’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.