What's been happening?
New First Minister and Ministerial Team. Nicola Sturgen MSP was formally sworn in as First Minister on 20 November and subsequently announced her new Cabinet and Ministerial team. Michael Matheson MSP is the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice, with Paul Wheelhouse MSP the new Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs.
Recorded Crime Statistics published showing crime at 40 year low. In 2013-14 crime reduced by 1% on the previous year and are now at the lowest level since 1974. Violent crime is down 10% in 2013-14, crimes of handling an offensive weapon are down 5%, the clear up rate is the highest since records began but sexual crimes are up 12% (Police Scotland estimate half of this increase is due a rise in reporting of historic crimes).
Programme for Government announced. This sets out the legislation for the coming year, as well as summarising the Scottish Government’s key achievements and main goals for the future. It includes commitments for a community justice bill and an empowering communities fund.
The Building Safer Communities Board met for the 6th time on 4 November. The Board agreed a new programme narrative which describes what the programme is all about and each Board member agreed to take on a ‘champion’ role for specific locations and themes.
The Reassuring the Public Board met for the last time on 25 November. The Board heard presentations from SCDC and Young Scot and considered a draft report and recommendations for how to implement the findings from all of the research undertaken for the programme. Once finalised these will be submitted to the Justice Board in February and published shortly thereafter.
ESRC event on the changing nature of crime in Scotland held on 4 November. An expert panel presented research on the crime drop in Scotland and the changing profile of victims and offenders.
Staff changes in the Building Safer Communities Team. Lorna Ascroft has now left to take up a new role in self-directed care and we welcome Gery McLaughlin as the new Deputy Head of the Community Safety Unit and lead for the programme. Gery previously headed up the Scottish Government team that led on antisocial behaviour, CCTV and sectarianism.
A project in Barrhead which has helped young people break the cycle of antisocial behaviour was the overall winner in the inaugural Police Scotland Local Policing Year One Awards.
The project started in August 2013 when members from the Barrhead Community Policing Team introduced a diversionary project after attending a seminar hosted by the Violence Reduction Unit. One of the speakers said research has shown that people who engage in criminality very often feel disengaged from their local communities.
Officers recognised the description fitted a small but significant number of pupils at Barrhead High School and brought these individuals together with the intention being to tackle that sense of disengagement and prevent these young people from following the typical cycle of behaviour which was to fall into criminal activity and engage in antisocial behaviour in the local community.
There are now 50 members of the East Ren Young Team (EYRT) with many now volunteering outwith school time. They have also been involved in a range of initiatives all of which have benefited the local community.
These include: using the school kitchen to prepare baking which is then taken to local old folks homes; painting a sports pavilion which had been covered in graffiti for years; and assisting with a facelift at Barrhead Railway Station.
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: "The Local Policing Year One Awards recognise innovation and excellence in delivering policing across Scotland and share best practice.
"The Awards enable us to celebrate the achievements of Police Scotland officers and staff and their partners in keeping people safe and tackling the policing priorities identified by local communities."
Judges said the ERYT project, which also won the award for Best Diversionary Initiative is: "An excellent idea that puts the young people at the heart of the local community and gives the young people a sense of being part of a team and a visibility in the community."
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