Claire calls for Government action on quad bikes

Following a Christmas period where quad bikes will have been bought and sold as presents I have once again called for the Scottish Government to step up its attempts to tackle anti-social behaviour on them.

Whilst I am sure most owners will want to use their vehicles safely and within the full confines of the law, many that will have bought or received such vehicles will have no idea that their use could be a criminal offence.

That is why the Scottish Government must start taking action in promoting responsible ownership and selling of quad bikes and similar vehicles. I first asked them if they would take action in promoting the registration and selling of quad bikes in Scotland in 2015 but two years later and we are still waiting for them to take action.

Meanwhile the problem of anti-social behaviour continues to blight communities across Mid Scotland and Fife. This is a real issue for many across the region. Whilst it might not be amongst the top priorities for the Scottish Government it is an issue that regularly fills my inbox.

Locals are concerned for their safety. These vehicles are used in local parks and public pathways, they are a danger to children out playing, dog walkers and their dogs and residents as they come and go. Local communities want to see as much effort as possible from everyone in tackling this nuisance.

You can read more about my calls on Fife Today’s website by clicking here.

Claire raises ‘unacceptable’ SPA accounts

Last week the Auditor General released a report into the accounts of the Scottish Police Authority, the watchdog for Police Scotland. She identified a “number of instances of poor governance and poor use of public money” which she deemed “unacceptable.”

This included a payoff of £56,666 for the former chief executive who presided over the SPA as it lurched from crisis to crisis – we should not be using public funds to reward failure.

Three temporary appointments to the SPA and Police Scotland were also calculated to have costs an extra £344,819. This included an interim chief financial officer which whose appointment was “inconsistent with procurement procedures.”

During topical questions I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary on who agreed to these payments and, with the case of the former Chief Executive’s lucrative pay-out, if that payment can be challenged.
 

Urgent Question – Fire Cuts

Today I asked an urgent question in the Scottish Parliament following reports from the BBC that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service plans to close fire stations and reduce firefighter numbers.

These reports are concerning; it is vital that any ‘transformation’ of our emergency services is carried out in response to evaluating risk. However, reports point to these changes being made as the result of a squeeze on resources.

Audit Scotland have previously warned of a £43 million budget gap, the leaked report claims that our fire service is facing “the greatest financial challenge seen in decades” and the Chief Fire Officer has admitted that the current model is “unsustainable” and could not last beyond the current financial year. Continue reading

Parsons Green Terror Attack

Yesterday I raised a topical question on the Scottish response to last week’s terrorist incident at Parsons Green in London. Following the raising of the threat level we have seen an increase in the number of armed police throughout the country.

It is right that we thank the emergency services for their quick response and we must also thank the transport staff that were, for many, the first responders on Friday. Continue reading

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