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.

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

Fife commuters cannot be ignored

I’ve called for the Scottish Government to stop ignoring Fife commuters after they have launched a consultation on a Rail Infrastructure Strategy.

The Government are holding workshops across the country but despite the strong case and campaign for Levenmouth rail link, the calls for a train stations at Newburgh, and complaints regarding overcrowding, unfair prices and lack of carriages, one will not take place in Fife.

The Government release states that these workshops will “reflect all distinct routes and markets that Scotland’s railways serve…and understand the needs and priorities of rail customers in those areas.” Fife’s voice must be heard.

Fife has been short changed for far too long and can no longer be ignored by the Government and ScotRail. The irony that locals will have to get a train to go to a workshop will not be lost on commuters.

That is why I have written to the Transport Minister calling for a workshop in Fife. Commuters and campaigners deserve to have their say on the future of rail in Scotland.

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/319343/msp-demands-a-fife-platform-for-rail-consultation/

Claire backs ScotRail price freeze plan

Today Scottish Labour announced a plan to freeze Scotrail prices.

Passengers across Mid Scotland and Fife are fed up with overpriced, overcrowded and unreliable trains.

Despite this, fares are due to rise in January. That is why Scottish Labour is calling for a fares freeze. After weeks of misery, people across the region deserve a better deal.

If you agree with us and back our plan then you can sign Scottish Labour’s petition below:

http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/s/labour-backs-a-2017-fare-freeze

Claire backs Freedom From Fear Campaign

With over 300 shopworkers assaulted every day I am pleased to support Usdaw’s campaign to call for an end to abuse in the workplace.

As part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff, Usdaw members came to Parliament to highlight the problems faced by staff during Respect for Shopworkers Week.

Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse whilst serving the public. It is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

No one should have to go to work expecting abuse.

I will continue to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers the support they need and deserve. We must give a clear message that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.

http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/news/political-backing-for-campaign-to-protect-shop-workers-1-4294356

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

Time for a frack free Fife

Following the successful campaign to have underground coal gasification banned in Fife and across Scotland I have today called for the Scottish Government to back plans to ban fracking in Scotland and ensure a “frack free Fife”.

The banning of UCG was only the first step. Now the Scottish Government must work with Scottish Labour in banning fracking. Anything less is unacceptable.

All evidence points to the fact that fracking, yet another fossil fuel, will have a negative impact on our environment. It is an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that has no place in Fife.

This is about the air we breathe, that water we drink and the communities we live in. That is why Labour will change the law and ban fracking in Scotland, just as we promised in our election manifesto.

My colleague Claudia Beamish MSP, has launched a consultation to ban the continuous process in Scotland and I would encourage everyone to put forward a submission to the consultation and unite behind calls for a frack free Fife.

Earlier this year the Scottish Parliament passed a motion calling for such a ban. The motion was passed due to Labour votes as a result of the SNP abstaining. The Scottish Government must listen to locals and community groups, the very people that will be impacted by the potential of drilling under their homes.

It is time for a frack free Fife.

Claudia Beamish’s consultation paper can be found at https://frackingbanbill.com/

The public can respond to the consultation here: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Fracking/

Support for Levenmouth Rail Link

Recently I met with the Transport Minister and Transport Scotland where I once again called for the re-introduction of Levenmouth Rail Link.

I’ve been campaigning for its re-introduction since I was first elected in 2007 and was pleased that my lobbying resulted in it being included in Scottish Labour’s manifesto ahead of last year’s election.

However there is still much work to be done and recently I also took part in a local conference with Levenmouth Rail Campaign, Fife Council and opposition politicians, which you can read about on Fife Today.

I look forward to working together as we continue to campaign for its re-introduction.

Claire welcomes UCG ban

After first raising concerns over Underground Coal Gasification in 2013, I’m delighted that today it was announced UCG has no place in Scotland.

It was clear from the outset that this was an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that had no place in the region.

I was pleased when my successful call to have UCG include in a moratorium was accepted last year and that research has now left the Scottish Government with no option but to rule UCG out.

Whilst Fife will no longer be a guinea-pig for UCG, this can only be the first step. The Scottish Government must now come out and ban fracking so once and for all we can have a Frack Free Fife.

You can read more here.