Review how legal aid fees are set with urgency, lawyers plead
When Carnegie UK Trust chief executive Martyn Evans last week unveiled his much anticipated report into the future of legal aid it received broad support from institutions operating in the sector. The Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Angela Grahame QC, said the review “reinforces the scope and the merits of Scotland’s legal aid system” while Law Society of Scotland president Graham Matthews said the report was “no nonsense” and “common sense”. The Scottish Legal Aid Board, which will be given wider responsibilities and become the Scottish Legal Assistance Authority if Mr Evans’s recommendations are implemented by the Scottish Government, noted that the report “recognises that Scotland has a legal aid system that is wide in scope, broad in eligibility, well-funded in international terms and supported by hundreds of committed and hard-working professionals”.
Anas Sarwar accused of ‘playing the race card’ in bitter row over Asian stop and search stats
Anas Sarwar was last night embroiled in an extraordinary war of words with Scotland’s police union over claims of institutional racism. The Labour MSP was accused of “playing the race card” and “playing the daft laddie” after highlighting figures suggesting Scots from an Asian background are four times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. The Scottish Police Federation pointed out the author of the research, Professor Susan McVie, has said the figures should be treated with caution because the ethnic minority data is partially based on information in the 2011 census.
Sarwar ‘playing race card’ over stop and search claim
The union representing Scotland’s rank-and-file police officers has accused a senior Labour politician of “playing the race card” by saying that ethnic minorities were more likely to be stopped and searched. Anas Sarwar, a Labour frontbencher at Holyrood who has made the fight against racism in public life a personal crusade, made his claims after the publication of a report into police stop-and-search powers.
Room for improvement in Scotland’s firearms licensing
Police Scotland’s procedures for conducting firearms licence checks are “out of date” and need renewing, a report has concluded. Improvements can still be made to Scotland’s firearms licensing despite the more consistent approach prompted by the national service, claims Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS). Licensing staff would benefit from more frequent training – and officers could consider checking applicants’ social media accounts when considering whether to grant their requests. The number of crimes involving firearms in Scotland has fallen 74 per cent in the last decade.
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman recognised that the force has made “significant progress”.
Crown drops rape case against police officer
A police officer who was due to stand trial accused of raping two women has had the case against him dropped. The charges against Sgt Blair Pettigrew were reportedly withdrawn after an alleged victim said she may have mistaken him for “someone else”. The officer, from Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, also faced charges of indecently assaulting a third woman and indecently communicating with another. Sgt Pettigrew, 34, had denied the charges, which dated from 2005 to 2015. The Scottish Sun said the alleged victim’s statement, which was in an email, led prosecutors to conclude there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
A licensing board’s decision to refuse an application to allow adult cinema-goers to take alcoholic drinks in with them while watching any film has been overturned following an appeal. A sheriff ruled that North Lanarkshire Licensing Board exercised its discretion in an “unreasonable manner” in refusing an application by NATL Amusements (UK) Ltd. Sheriff Daniel Kelly QC heard that the appellants challenged the refusal of an application to vary a licence which restricted the consumption of alcoholic drinks at Showcase Cinema in Coatbridge to those watching films classified as suitable for persons aged 18 or over.
Police ‘Gang Matrix’ database packed with thousands of street gangsters ‘is saving lives’
A controversial police intelligence system featuring the names of thousands of gang members and their associates at risk of violence is saving lives, a senior Met cop has said.
The Metropolitan Police ‘Gang Matrix’ has been criticised as “institutional racism in action” because of its overwhelming focus on black males, who make up 77 per cent of the 3,500 names currently active on the database.
Revenge porn: Scottish detection rate only 39%, figures reveal
The police detection rate for so-called “revenge porn” cases in Scotland is only 39 per cent since new laws came into force last summer, statistics have shown. The figures, released to the BBC under Freedom of Information laws, relate to the sharing of non-consensual intimate images July and December last year. “We encourage victims to come forward early which will better enable us to get evidence from any devices” DS Gordon McCreadie, Police Scotland Over this period Police Scotland received 225 complaints, but only 89 were classed as “detected” or ready to be referred to the courts, with the force acknowledging that some cases were “very complex”.
Pilot officers pilot new triage system
A scheme which offers more options for police staff when dealing with someone with a mental health issue is being piloted in Dumfries & Galloway.