Justice and Safety
Message from the Justice Secretary to police and fire staff
In my time as Justice Secretary, I have been continually struck by the sheer professionalism and dedication of Scotland’s firefighters, police officers and the staff that work with them.
There is no doubt that 2017 has been a challenging year. There have been changes in leadership, with Susan Deacon starting in her new role as chair of the Scottish Police Authority earlier in December. Kirsty Darwent has also taken over from Pat Watters as chair of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
However, figures released in the autumn saw a 3% drop in overall levels of recorded crime, a reduction by more than a third over the last decade. This is a testament to our officers and our partner organisations who work to make Scotland a safer place.
Police officers and staff continue to make an incredible contribution to Scottish society. The horrific terrorattacks in London and Manchester served as a stark reminder of the role that police officers play in keeping our communities safe, with officers providing visible protection on our streets.
I also recognise that the support provided by the police goes beyond what many would consider to be traditional police work and each day the service deals with hundreds of calls relating to vulnerable and missing people.
I know that police officers and staff have welcomed the increased emphasis within the service on their health and wellbeing this year, something which I feel ensures they are well placed and supported to deliver an effective service to the public.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June, our fire service acted quickly to provide immediate support and reassurance to high rise residents in Scotland in the weeks following the tragedy, including prioritising Home Fire Safety Visits.
Fire crews attended 91,139 incidents in 2016/17, 27,240 of which were fires. We were again reminded that our firefighters put their lives on the line in the interests of our safety on a daily basis from their heroic response to the fire at Cameron House Hotel.
And at this time of year some people, particularly the elderly, immobile and those who live alone, are still at risk from the threat of fire. It’s particularly encouraging to see the fire service working to develop new ways to identify those individuals in communities who are most at risk, and to make early interventions to ensure they are protected.
2018 will undoubtedly bring its own challenges, but for now I’d like to thank our firefighters, police officers and all the staff that work with them for their efforts over the course of 2017 as they work hard to protect us and keep us safe from harm.