Justice and Safety
The week in review
British Transport Police
The Scottish Parliament has approved the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill in principle after a stage one debate. When passed, the draft legislation will see the British Transport Police integrated into Police Scotland, creating a more effective, joined-up police service on Scotland’s railways.
The stage one debate was opened by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and closed by Michael Matheson who said: “Police Scotland have made clear that specialist railway policing expertise and capacity will be maintained and that there will be improved access to wider support facilities and specialist equipment.
“We remain committed to providing a ‘triple-lock guarantee’ that secures the jobs, pay and pension conditions for over 280 railway policing officers and staff in Scotland and will be able to firm up details in the coming weeks as the Bill moves forward.”
Forensic medical services
On Tuesday Mr Matheson updated parliament on the progress to transform forensic examination services for victims of sexual assault and rape. He confirmed the newly established Taskforce for the Improvement of Services for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault, led by Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, will publish its work plan after the summer to clearly communicate how work will be driven forward. He also confirmed that Healthcare Improvement Scotland have commenced work on new national standards for forensic examinations for victims of sexual which will be published by the end of the year.
The Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services held its first meeting of the panel on 9 May following the launch of the review on 25 April. The review, led by NHS 24 chair Esther Roberton, will make recommendations to modernise laws underpinning the legal profession’s current regulatory system including how complaints are handled. The group’s discussion focused on engaging with the remit given to it by Ministers and they intend to publish short minutes of its meetings in due course.
Annabelle Ewing launched the National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland at a conference on ‘Returned missing people’ in Glasgow. Bringing together Police Scotland, local authorities, the NHS and the third sector, the framework aims deal consistently and appropriately with incidents of people going missing. In particular it will introduce preventative measures to reduce the number of episodes of people going missing, provide the best possible support to missing people and their families and protect vulnerable people to reduce the risk of harm.
At the conference Ms Ewing said: “Every year over 30,000 people are reported missing to Police Scotland and around two thirds of these are children and young people, who are especially vulnerable to harm and exploitation. We must be able to understand and deal with the issues that lie behind individual cases and, while Scotland already has the right set of policies in place as well as a wealth of good practice, we need a consistent and coherent, multi-agency response. I believe this framework is a major step forward in our efforts to protect some of Scotland’s most vulnerable individuals and ensure that the families and loved ones left behind are supported.
Young chefs were given the opportunity to cook for a packed Scottish Parliament restaurant. Each had completed the Moving On programme organised by Action for Children to mentor young men who have spent time in prison at an early age, to gain new skills to increase their employment chances, and prevent them reoffending. Mr Matheson joined many parliamentary colleagues to sample a meal prepared by the trainee chefs ahead of a celebration of the “Yes Chef” project at the end of the month, where they will have to serve a six-course taster menu for 600 people. Mr Matheson said: “Supporting young people who have spent time in custody to reintegrate into their communities is a priority for the Scottish Government. The success rate of Moving On Scotland clearly shows that, with tailored support, these young people have an important place in society and a contribution to make.”
Stop and search powers
Promoting public safety and preventing and detecting crime are the main aims of the new code of practice on stop and search powers which came into force this week. The code received widespread public support during consultation, was developed with an expert group led by John Scott QC, and recognises that specific guidance on dealing with children and vulnerable adults is required.
Mr Matheson launched the code at Police Scotland’s St. Leonard’s station in Edinburgh alongside officers and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams who said: “Police Scotland welcomes the introduction of the Code and has worked closely with the Scottish Government to support its development. It provides clear guidance to all our officers and places the rights of the individuals at the centre of any decision to carry out a search.
“In preparation for the introduction of the Code all frontline officers have received training and we will continue to work closely with partners, particularly children and young people, to monitor its impact.”