Justice and Safety
The week in review
Among the key issues for our ministers this week were the country’s response to the terror atrocity in London, the on-going work of Scotland’s law enforcement agencies and partners to tackle the harm caused to communities by illegal drugs, and supporting Child Safety Week to help families keep their kids safe from accidents.
London Terror Attack
The week began on a sombre note as news emerged of a terrorist attack in London, in which eight people were killed and dozens more injured.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was briefed by the deputy National Security Adviser on Sunday morning before chairing a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee (SGoR) which received an update from Police Scotland on implications for policing and security north of the border. This included an enhanced visibility including increasing the number of armed response vehicles (ARVs) at key locations.
Ms Sturgeon said: “My heartfelt sympathies – and those of everyone in Scotland – are with the families of those who lost their lives during last night’s despicable and cowardly terror attack. Our thoughts are also with those who sustained injuries. We wish all of them a full and speedy recovery. I also want to thank our emergency services. Last night we saw yet again the bravery, dedication, selflessness and professionalism of the police and of those who work in the NHS and fire service.”
The Metropolitan Police has asked anyone with any information regarding the attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market to contact the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.
Serious Crime Taskforce
On Monday Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell joined the June meeting of Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Taskforce (SOCT) to discuss the illegal drugs trade and its links with serious organised crime in Scotland.
The meeting, chaired by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson at the Scottish Crime Campus, Gartcosh, heard that around two-thirds of SOC groups are involved in the supply and distribution of drugs, including new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Taskforce members discussed a presentation on measures to reduce the harm caused by drugs through prevention and awareness-raising activities. Read more about efforts to tackle SOC, including the Taskforce, on the Scottish Government website.
Child Safety Week
On Tuesday Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs Annabelle Ewing visited the innovative Haven Project at Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh as part of a series of events in Scotland marking Child Safety Week (CSW) which runs to this weekend.
CSW is run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to raise awareness of the risks of everyday accidents that can cause serious injury to children. Supported by the Scottish Government, this year’s campaign theme is ‘Sharing is Caring’ – underlining the impact that voices of experience can have on wider awareness of unintentional risks and how to mitigate them and keep kids safe.
CAPT started the week by publishing research which showed nearly three-quarters (72%) of Scottish parents feel under too much pressure to be “perfect parents”, with nearly one in three (29%) unwilling to admit to an accident or near miss for fear of being judged.
“It gets the message across to parents and children in a fun and engaging way, helping parents learn how to fit safety into their busy lives,” Ms Ewing said in support of the campaign.
“I would encourage you to visit the Child Safety Week website to check out the valuable campaign resources and do what you can to support this valuable work.”
You can find out more information about hazards and tips to keep kids safe all through the year on the CAPT website and the dedicated website for Child Safety Week. And follow the conversations on Twitter with the #childsafetyweek hashtag.
On Friday, Ms Ewing encouraged victims of hate crime to come forward and help the police bring perpetrators to justice.
The Minister was responding to the latest annual series of official statistics covering religiously-aggravated offences, other hate crimes and charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.
Among the findings were, that
- Racial crime charges are the most common brought by police, but with a decrease of 10% compared to 2015/16
- Sexual orientation aggravated charges increased by 5% compared to 2015/16
- The number of religiously aggravated charges is the highest since 2012/13
- 44% of victims in religiously aggravated charges were police officers
- 377 charges were made under the Offensive Behaviour Act – an increase of 32% on the previous year. 140 of these charges related to disorder at the Scottish Cup Final on 21 May 2016.
Ms Ewing said: “Scotland does not exist in isolation from the rest of the world and we know that global events have an impact on the levels of hate crime that different communities are subjected to. We must ensure that we have appropriate legislation in place to deal with those who continue to perpetrate prejudice, bigotry and hatred, which is why I commissioned the Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland and expect that its findings will help us to ensure that our hate crime legislation is fit for the 21st century.”
You can read more of the Minister’s response, and view the full statistics on the Scottish Government website.
New police recruits coincide with step up in visibility for key events
Also this week, as Police Scotland officially welcomed the latest intake of newly-qualified Constables into the service, ACC Bernard Higgins provided an update on how officers were being deployed to keep people safe in the days around the election and into the weekend for the key World Cup qualifier between Scotland and England at Hampden.