Official crime stats hide true extent of crime in Fife

This week I called for a change in how official Government statistics are collected after it was revealed that the true extent of violent crime in Fife is 8% higher than thought.

Currently the official figures for ‘non-sexual violent crime’ in Fife stands at 410 for 2015/16, a rise of over 22% for the year pervious. However, these figures fail to take into account common assaults which can include, kicking, punching and result in injuries such as broken noses.

Last year there was 4,604 common assaults in Fife, meaning that the true total of violent crime was 5,014 during 2015/16, a twelvefold increase on official figures.

Many people, especially victims, will be shocked to see that the official statistics do not consider assaults that can include punching and kicking as ‘violent.’ Whilst this is down to what is considered a ‘crime’ and what is considered an ‘offence’, there will be thousands of victims throughout Fife living with the aftermath of such assaults. They will be rightly asking why such a distinction is being made and why these attacks are not being classified as the violent crimes they are.

Non-Sexual violent crime already saw a worrying increase in Fife in the past year and if we are to ensure that we can fully address problem areas and increasing crime then we must know the true extent of crime in our communities.

That is why it is only right that we look at how crime statistics are compiled in Scotland and we can understand any trends in crimes across Fife and beyond.

Claire calls for Justice Centre for Kirkcaldy

I can reveal that the number of jury trials in Kirkcaldy have almost doubled in the past 5 years and that is why I have reiterated my calls for a new, state of the art, Justice Centre in the town.

Statistics released to me have revealed the strain been felt by the current court. In the past 5 years, the total number of trails called has increased from 1,196 to 2,060, amongst those the number of jury trails called have increased by almost 100%.

At the same time, there has been a 55% increase in the number of trails adjourned, a quarter of which were adjourned due to a lack of court time in the past year. This is despite an increase in the number of days the court has sat.

In 2012 a consultation document from the Scottish Court Services that led to the closure of local courts across Scotland highlighted the need for change in Kirkcaldy. Continue reading

Government must “step up and take action” on quad bikes

I have called for the Scottish Government to step up and take action on the illegal and anti-social use of quad bikes and motorised scooters after they confirmed to me that they were not taking any action to encourage the responsible selling and ownership of such vehicles.

I am disappointed and deeply frustrated that despite a commitment from the previous Minister for Community Safety, the Scottish Government have now decided to hide behind the UK Government rather than take action.

I have been campaigning against such anti-social behaviour for some time and I have organised roundtables, met with the Police, campaigners, and concerned members of the public, and raised the issue many times in Parliament.

The illegal and anti-social behaviour on motorised off-road vehicles, such as quad bikes, continues to blight our local communities and the public rightly want to see as much effort as possible from everyone in tackling this nuisance. Continue reading

Claire raises domestic abuse during FMQs

Last week during First Minister’s Questions, I asked Nicola Sturgeon a question on domestic abuse.

Statistics show that the number of people convicted for a crime with a domestic abuse aggravator is upwards of 80% and in the last 5 years the number of people convicted has increased.

I support the work of Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal Service in tackling this crime . People must have confidence in coming forward and reporting domestic abuse and they must feel they have the full support of the authorities in Scotland.

Domestic Abuse is a violent and psychological crime that can devastate lives. We should be doing all that we can to tackle this abuse in Scotland.

Answers needed over police closure threat

Today I have called for answers from the Scottish Government over the threat of local police station closures. This follows news that Police Scotland are reviewing the future of 58 local stations, including a number of stations in their East division which covers my region of Mid Scotland and Fife. 

Under the SNP, Police Scotland faces a £27 million revenue budget overspend. The overspend is forcing Police Scotland’s hand and the potential closure of local stations is just the next step for a force desperately trying to make ends meet.

SNP ministers can no longer bury their head in the sand and claim that this will not have an impact on local policing. Amongst the stations reported to be under-threat are Anstruther, Bannockburn, Bridge of Allan and Tullibody.

The details where revealed following a freedom of information request after it was announced that Police Scotland intend to reduce ‘floor space’ by up to 25% through an estate strategy review. Continue reading

Claire raises rise in sexual crimes

Following the release of recorded crime statistics this week I asked a question during First Minister’s Questions on the worrying increase in sexual crimes.

According to the statistics, sexual crime has seen a year on year increase since 2008 and there are concerns that we are seeing more sexual crimes involving young people.

That is why I asked the First Minister if she will back Rape Crisis Scotland’s call for support for their prevention approach in schools.

Continue reading

Police Scotland Morale

Following last week’s Courier exclusive, I raised the issue of Police morale during Justice Questions in Parliament.

According to a Fife whistleblower morale amongst the force is “dreadful” and the number of officers able to respond to concerns had been “decimated”.

Police Scotland have admitted that their budget is “challenging”. This follows a summer of concerning newspaper stories regarding the impact the budget is having on resources and local policing

Continue reading

Police Scotland concerns in Fife

Today in an exclusive from the Courier the impact on Police Scotland’s “challenging” budget has been laid bare.

According to a whistleblower from Fife, moral amongst local officers is “dreadful” and the number of staff “decimated”.

Concerns have also been raised that the force came close to not being able to pay wages on time. This has been denied by the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, although the latter did admit that managing their budgets was “challenging”. Continue reading

Programme for Government Speech

Yesterday I spoke during the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government debate.

I raised concerns around local policing and Police Scotland’s budget, the use of tasers within British Transport Police and the Scottish Government’s planes to merge BTP with Police Scotland.

I also raised the plans for a domestic abuse bill and the need for such legislation following the publication of statistics around Clare’s Law. Continue reading

Clare’s Law

Today it has been revealed that almost a 1,000 Scots have applied to find out if their partner has an abusive past.

Clare’s Law saw 926 applications under the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse. 391 of these resulted in the applicant receiving information about a potentially dangerous partner.

Whilst these figures show the success of Clare’s Law they also show the scale of the problem.

That almost a thousand women felt the need to check their partner’s history – and 42% received information about a potentially dangerous partner – indicates that much more has to be done to tackle domestic abuse in Scotland.

That is why Scottish Labour is calling for the introduction of domestic abuse courts within Scotland’s courts to ensure these serious crimes are dealt with as a priority.

You can read more on Heart Scotland’s Website.