Justice and Safety

The week in review

June 2, 2018 by No Comments

This week’s round-up blog includes evidence on the long-term impacts of adverse childhood events, an announcement of new investment to expand the ‘Navigators’ emergency-room violence prevention project, and the publication of a major independent review of Scotland’s hate crime laws.

Injured officers

The thoughts of Ministers, and all of us in the Safer Communities and Justice directorates this weekend, are with the officers who were injured while on duty on Friday during a serious incident in Greenock, and with their families and colleagues. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson was updated on Friday’s incident by Police Scotland interim Chief Constable, DCC designate Iain Livingstone and conveyed his best wishes for the officers’ speedy recovery. The incident remains under investigation.

Adversity in childhood

Evidence on the links between childhood adversity and victimisation and criminality in adulthood are the focus of a short briefing paper published by Scottish Government analysts this week. The paper makes a strong case for preventing crime by targeting those most at risk of experiencing adverse childhoods, and supporting people in the justice system whose lives have been affected by adverse childhood experiences (also known as ‘ACEs’) in order to reduce reoffending and prevent intergenerational crime and victimisation. It argues that this will require a coordinated and collaborative effort across government.

The evidence of the impact of ACEs in later life and actions to mitigate harms was a key theme in Scotland’s Justice ‘Vision & Priorities‘ strategy launched last summer, as well as the 2017-18 Programme for Government, which outlined a range of work being undertaken to support children and their families from the early years of life through to adulthood.

You can read the new evidence paper on the main Scottish Government website.

A&E Navigators step up a gear to break cycles of violence

More patients affected by violence will be offered support during admission to hospital to help them turn away from violence in their lives.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced extra Scottish Government funding to the national Violence Reduction Unit to expand its ‘Navigator’ programme – which has been supporting patients attending emergency rooms at the Royal Infirmaries of Glasgow and Edinburg – to new locations at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, and Crosshouse Hospital in South Ayrshire.

Navigator is a unique scheme which seeks to help people trapped in a cycle of violence. Mentors or ‘navigators’ provide support in hospital, help to diffuse difficult situations, and identify support services that patients can access.

Mr Matheson announced the expansion as he met cyclists embarking on a charity bike ride in aid of the Navigators’ #Recycle2 ‘Running on Empty Fund’.

Hate crime

The report of the Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland, led by Lord Bracadale, was published on Thursday.

The independent review, which was established by Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs in January last year, published a full report with more than 20 recommendations and a summary leaflet.

Responding to the final report, Ms Ewing said: “I am grateful to Lord Bracadale and his team for completing such a thorough piece of work. We agree that Scotland’s hate crime laws should be consolidated into a single piece of legislation. The Scottish Government will use this report as a basis for wider consultation with communities and groups across the country on how to bring forward new legislation that is fit for the 21st century.

“We have been consistently clear that legislation alone will not achieve the inclusive and equal society that we aspire to, however the laws passed by Parliament do form a clear basis for what is and is not acceptable in the communities we are elected to serve. We will continue to work with communities across Scotland to build trust and understanding and, wherever possible, prevent hate crime from happening in the first place.”

You can read more about Lord Bracadale’s review on the main Scottish Government website.

Auditor General reports on fire reform

Also on Thursday, Scotland’s Auditor General reported on the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, saying that transforming the unified service, created in 2013, into a more flexible, modern service has been steady though slow.

The Audit Scotland report from Caroline Gardner said real progress has been made with integrating the eight former services into a single body and that SFRS is now in a good position to complete the process following a deal agreed in April 2018 to harmonise firefighters’ pay and conditions.

Welcoming the report, Minister for Community Safety said: “The SFRS inherited a substantial capital backlog from the eight legacy services and the Scottish government continues to work closely with the service to identify and provide the capital funding it needs for buildings, fleet and equipment. This year the Scottish government increased the spending capacity of the service by £15.5m to invest in transformation plans – and maintained an increase of £21.7m in capital funding announced in the 2017-18 budget. This investment, coupled with service transformation, will ensure that communities across Scotland remain protected from emerging risks and threats.”

SFRS Dundee control room

Earlier in the week Ms Ewing visited the Fire & rescue Srevice’s North Operations Control to meet staff. The Minister also took the opportunity to thank control staff and the firefighters on the ground for their sustained work tackling recent wildfires and keeping affected communities safe.

Address to Superintendents

Also this week the Justice Secretary attended the Wednesday morning session of the annual conference of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, addressing delegates as they gathered at the Police College, Tulliallan. You can follow Twitter conversations from the conference with the #asps2018 hashtag.

Update on work for missing people

Scotland’s first Missing Persons Week draws to a close this weekend, following a range of activity to raise awareness of the scale and complex nature of the issue in Scotland’s communities.

People who go missing often do so because they lack that sense of belonging and have lost the trust in society that most of us take for granted. In any given year, well over 20,000 missing person investigations are conducted in Scotland. Many of these relate to vulnerable individuals who may be at risk of harm and abuse.

The National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland was launched in May 2017 to help prevent people from going missing in the first place and to ensure they receive the best possible support when they do. It supports a multi-agency approach and builds on best practice being delivered in areas across Scotland.

One year on, the Scottish Government has published details of progress being made on the Framework’s objectives, as well as priorities for the future. You can read the update on the main Scottish Government website.

Read more information about Missing Person’s Week, and links to further advice and information on the Police Scotland website.

And finally

“What a truly inspirational story” – that was the verdict of BBC presenter John Craven, as the Countryfile Diaries programme visited HM Prison Castle Huntly to feature the Dementia Dog collaboration with the Scottish Prison Service. The ground-breaking project supports inmates’ rehabilitation ahead of returning to their communities by developing their skills to train dogs who go on to provide lifeline help for people with dementia.

Speaking of his experience of the project one male inmate told the programme: “You get a lot of satisfaction knowing that, obviously at the far end of the scale, it’s going into the community to help people with dementia… for some people they might never have had that connection or bond with anyone, either an animal or a person, so it can give you that.”

The programme is available to watch for just over another three weeks on BBC iPlayer, and the 7-minute feature on Dementia Dogs begins two-and-a-half minutes in.


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