Justice and Safety
The week in review
A look back on developments across the justice and safer communities portfolio.
An independent review of legal aid was announced by Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing on Wednesday, focused on ensuring it meets the changing needs of Scotland’s justice system – and contributes to improving people’s lives. The legal aid system provides publicly funded legal advice and representation in court for those most in need. The review is being chaired by Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie Trust and is expected to report its recommendations to ministers within 12 months.
Extra £25m police funding
As part of the Scottish budget process, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay confirmed on Thursday that an additional £25 million will be made available to Police Scotland through the Police Reform and Change fund, which will support delivery of a police service capable of meeting the changing demands of crime and society over the next ten years. The Draft Budget announced in December already protects the police resource budget in real terms.
A powerful video aimed at helping professionals like GPs, dentists, vets and hairdressers to spot the signs of domestic abuse has been nominated for an award. Produced by the pioneering Medics Against Violence programme and the Violence Reduction Unit, the film shows how the signs of domestic abuse can be visible, though not through bruises or injuries, and includes advice on how professionals can broach the subject with someone they think has been a victim. Watch the ‘Harder’ video online.
Response to Bailey Gwynne report
Deputy First Minister John Swinney gave a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, responding to the Independent Review of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Aberdeen school pupil Bailey Gwynne. Mr Swinney confirmed that steps are being taken to explore further controls for the purchase of weapons online, while new guidance for teachers on violence and weapons in schools will form part of the refreshed school exclusions guidance to be published in the Spring.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson joined senior leaders from across the justice system and wider public services and third sector on Tuesday. They discussed the forthcoming refresh of Scotland’s Justice Strategy – which will update the 2012 version – as well as the possible impacts of the EU Referendum for justice and security in Scotland.
Out of hospital cardiac arrests
A pilot scheme in the north east of Scotland has been launched which will see defibrillators donated for use in road policing vehicles by a family whose son died following a collision between his bike and a car. Ten defibrillators have been donated by Sandra and Gordon McKandie following the death of their 16-year-old son Keiran in March 2016.
Holyrood Magazine caught up with Michael Matheson recently, and asked him how his background as a health professional and former health minister was helping him in his approach to the justice portfolio. Their latest issue includes the interview, where he discusses the benefits of an evidence and outcomes based approach, particularly when looking at tackling reoffending behaviour and supporting victims.