Justice and Safety
The week in review
This week’s round-up includes Ministers’ engagements on police recruitment, on media reporting of domestic abuse, and debating legislation to tackle offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications.
New police recruits
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson was at the Scottish Police College, Tulliallan to witness 222 new officers from Police Scotland and British Transport Police Scotland passing out from their initial training.
Among the latest recruits are a number who took part in Police Scotland’s Introduction to Policing course, which was developed earlier this year to encourage black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates to find out more about joining the police.
Mr Matheson, who joined Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald and HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman, said: “I would like to wish these new officers the very best of success for their new career and hope to see them active in keeping Scotland’s communities safe in the coming months and years.”
Read more about Friday’s parade on the Police Scotland website.
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) December 8, 2017
The Justice Secretary had been at Tulliallan earlier in the week as Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone presented commendations for bravery and meritorious conduct to 28 police officers and 24 members of the public for the efforts to keep people safe. Among those honoured at the ceremony were two constables who entered fast-flowing cold water to rescue a woman who was unresponsive, dragging her to the riverbank and successfully carried out CPR in Glasgow.
Mr Matheson said he was delighted to meet all the winners and witness the recognition of their “courageous and selfless” actions.
He said: “Police Scotland officers often find themselves in situations as part of their duty where they are expected to go above and beyond what would normally be expected. It is important that we do take the time to recognise when our officers and staff go the extra mile to keep people safe.”
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) December 5, 2017
Offensive behaviour at football
Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing attended the Justice Committee this week to highlight the importance of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act as the Committee continue to consider whether the legislation should be repealed.
Ms Ewing told fellow MSPs: “The vast majority of football fans are well behaved, but the fact that we do continue to regularly hear offensive singing and chanting clearly tells us that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Football is not an island on its own where people are free to do as they choose without any need to consider the wider impact of their behaviours – aggressive behaviour deemed acceptable at football will simply be carried into other areas of life. Action and interventions are required to tackle all social problems and offensive behaviour at football will not simply disappear on its own. Legislation is needed – but it is not a panacea in and of itself.”
Read the Minister’s full remarks and response to Committee members’ questions in the Scottish Parliament Official Report.
Support for families of prisoners
Minister for Childcare & Early Years Maree Todd officially opened a new family visitor centre at HM Prison Low Moss this week. The centre is one of four such facilities to open at prisons across Scotland this year with the support of Scottish Government funding. These centres allow children and families of prisoners an opportunity to relax and play before visiting loved-ones. They also offer support and advice about housing, finance and travel issues, children and health matters.
Ms Todd said: “We know that children can suffer greatly from the effect of a family member being imprisoned, particularly a parent. That is why we are supporting the development of Prison Visitors Centres across Scotland through £1.8 million grant funding from 2015 to 2018, which provide an innovative approach to enhancing the experience of families visiting prison.”
Read more from the Minister about the event on the Engage for Education blog.
Zero Tolerance launch guidance for journalists
It has been a busy second week of campaigning by Scottish Government ministers and partners as part of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign. As the Domestic Abuse Bill progresses through Parliament, Zero Tolerance launched guidance ‘What journalists need to know about the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill’.
Produced in consultation with Scottish Women’s Aid and ASSIST, the briefing includes a clear and comprehensive overview of the new legislation, information about coercive control and a set of manageable steps that writers can take to ensure their reporting is accurate and responsible.
The Justice Secretary attended the launch and addressed attendees.
He said: “Zero Tolerance has a strong track record in working with the media including the prestigious ‘Write to End Violence Awards’ which celebrates good reporting. This can play a vital role in increasing understanding of violence against women and challenging its place in our society. By respecting the integrity of a victim’s experience, journalists can encourage more people to come forward and seek justice, safe in the knowledge there will be no further repercussions for their privacy or that of their family.”
— ScotGov Justice (@ScotGovJustice) December 7, 2017
This week the Minister for Community Safety had her final meeting with Pat Watters in his role as Chair of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service. Mr Watters has now retired after five years with the SFRS, having led the unified national service as it took the first steps towards transformation to better meet the needs of Scotland’s communities. Ms Ewing thanked Mr Watters for his contribution following their meeting on Thursday.
In his own valedictory remarks on the SFRS website, Mr Watters said: “I am extremely proud to have been part of this incredible Service. The strength of commitment and dedication of the people within the SFRS family is something I have not seen anywhere else. I leave with mixed feelings. I feel a deep sense of pride for what we have achieved since becoming a single Service. I also feel sadness that I am ending this role just as we are about to start transformation – truly the most exciting of opportunities.”
You can read more of Mr Watters’ observations on the SFRS website.
— Annabelle Ewing (@aewingmsp) December 7, 2017