Number of cocaine-related deaths in Scotland quadruples in four years
The number of cocaine-related deaths in Scotland has quadrupled in the space of just four years amid warnings that people are using the drug along with other Class A substances. Cocaine was linked to 139 fatalities in 2018, up from just 35 in 2015, and almost double the 77 deaths recorded in 2017.
Grieving families of violently killed sons join forces to demand justice
Two families who had sons suffer violent deaths – followed by police investigations concluding the deaths were not murders – have joined forces to demand justice. The family of Kevin McLeod, 24, found dead in Wick Harbour in February 1997, has welcomed the decision that the case is to be reviewed independently by Merseyside Police but want the same courtesy extended to the family of Stefan Sutherland. Sandy and Sandra Sutherland will be writing to Chief Constable Iain Livingstone this week to point out the parallels in the two cases and to demand that their son’s murder also be reviewed independently.
Calls to British Transport Police about assaults on Scottish trains are being put through to an English call centre
Members of the public calling British Transport Police to report a crime on Scotland’s rail network are put through to a call centre in Birmingham, it can be revealed. Last night dad Stephen Chalmers, from Lanarkshire, who was violently assaulted after stepping in to stop yobs who were pestering his daughter, told how he was put through to the English call centre. But the family say they struggled to have their Scottish accents understood.
Mr Chalmers says he was punched in the face as he and his daughter returned home from a family outing. “We thought it was only right to report the assault but were taken aback to learn we were speaking to a call centre in Birmingham,” he said. “It took three or four attempts at explaining for the call handler to understand our accent. “I can only assume centralising calls is a cost-saving measure. “But I fear it will put others off if they struggle to be understood.”
Police launch summer campaign
Police Scotland and its partners are aiming to tackle antisocial behaviour across Dumfries and Galloway this summer with a new programme of community engagement. It follows an increase in some antisocial behaviour in public spaces, such as parks, during the schools’ Easter break. The joint initiative will also involve Galloway Youth Work, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the local authority’s community safety officers and licensing department. Over the summer months these agencies will work together to look at ways of reducing antisocial Behaviour and increasing engagement with young people, while offering signposting to diversionary activities, to ensure communal areas can be enjoyed equally.
Campaigners hopeful tide is turning in bid to reform criminal drug approach
A mother who lost her son after a drug overdose 18 years ago has welcomed high level backing for drug possession to be decriminalised, a move she says would save lives. Caroline Butler from Aberdeenshire – who called for decriminalisation in an interview with The Sunday National in its first issue last September – was “heartened” by growing support for reform. Her son Kevin would be 48 this year if he had lived. Last week senior police officers – including Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson from Police Scotland – gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into problem drug use in which they lent support to serious reform of drug laws, claiming current legislation was potentially causing harm.
Operation Unicorn: the secret strategy for the Queen dying in Scotland
A secret strategy is in place to help key public bodies plan for the Queen passing away in Scotland, the Herald on Sunday can reveal. Operation Unicorn will involve the immediate suspension of business at the Scottish Parliament as the authorities prepare for a state funeral that will become a global event. A Holyrood source said the Queen dying north of the border could result in hundreds of thousands of people from across the world flocking to Holyrood. It has previously been reported that the UK strategy for handling the Queen’s death, Operation London Bridge, dates back to the 1960s.
Police Scotland bring forward ‘no-deal’ Brexit plans
Police Scotland have brought forward their Brexit contingency plans by two months, placing 300 officers on standby in case of protests and disruption at ports. Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said there would be an “early reactivation” of Brexit contingency plans based on coping with the “reasonable worst case scenarios” of no-deal.
Police officers should be given same legal guarantees as the armed forces, MPs demand
Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson, who is among those in the “Blue Collar Conservatism” group calling for change, has said that whoever wins the race to Downing Streets must work with Holyrood to produce a “police covenant”. It would be similar to the armed forces covenant rolled out by David Cameron in 2011 and would be an agreement to offer officers support both in and out of work. Mr Thomson, along with 20 other Tory MPs, has signed an open letter to both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt urging them to commit to the measure which would recognise the risks officers take, guarantee inflation-proof pay rises each year and set out how they will be supported.
Police Scotland crime scene expert ‘inspired by Silent Witness’ ahead of BBC’s Murder Case screening
A crime scene expert revealed she was inspired to take up the grisly profession by telly classic Silent Witness. Police Scotland DS Nikki Wake, 35, admits she is following in the footsteps of telly hero, pathologist Sam Ryan, played by actress Amanda Burton.
Police Scotland put officers on standby for Brexit unrest – two months before UK set to leave EU
Cops will be back on standby for civil unrest sparked by Brexit — over two months before the UK is due to leave the bloc. Top brass have made 31,300 Scots officers available from August following a rethink sparked by an “unprecedented” number of separate demos draining resources.