The final proposal for my proposed Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill was lodged this week, following a meeting with trade union representatives and Scottish Hazards.
Following a consultation on the proposed Bill earlier this year, with the overwhelming majority of respondents in favour, I am now seeking support from fellow MSPs to introduce the Bill to Parliament.
The proposal would amend the law of culpable homicide to ensure that where loss of life is caused by the recklessness or gross negligence of individuals, companies or organisations, conviction reflecting the appropriate seriousness and moral opprobrium can take place.
It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying as a result of negligence or recklessness by employers and this has to change.
The law of culpable homicide needs to apply equally and provide a clear set of rules defining when individuals or organisations commit this offence. My proposal seeks to do that and to ensure involuntary deaths can be investigated under the same law regardless of where they happen.
I am urging MSPs across the Parliament to support this Bill so the prospects for bereaved families achieving justice can be improved.
On Monday, BBC Scotland aired ‘Disclosure; dead in police custody’ revealing CCTV footage of the moments leading up to the death of Sheku Bayoh.
I was interviewed as part of the show and I believe that the information that was revealed by Mark Daly raises serious questions that must be urgently answered.
I recognise that the police do a difficult job but something went wrong that morning.
Sheku’s death was entirely avoidable and serious questions have been raised about the proportionate nature of the police’s response, how deaths in custody are investigated and how families are treated when they lose a loved one.
We cannot be complacent and I believe that there must be a public inquiry.
On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.
Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.
I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.
I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.
Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.
Yesterday, the independent review into police conduct during the 1984/85 miners’ strike issued a call for evidence.
The long-awaited review will look into the protests against closure of pits across the UK by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Government. During that time 500 Scottish miners were arrested – this was 30% of arrests from the year-long strike despite the country only having 10% of the UK’s mining workforce.
We need to ensure that we achieve the justice that miners and Scottish mining communities deserve. We need answers to the tactics used by police during that time, including as to why the proportion of arrests where 3 times higher than the proportion of workforce.
The call for evidence is open until the 30th of November and views can be submitted online at the link below.
We deserve to know the truth about what happened in Scotland during that period. I’d therefore urge anyone involved in the strikes to make themselves known to the review and submit their evidence.
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.
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.
On December the 6th I joined colleagues in attending the Day of Action Against Blacklisting lobby outside the Scottish Parliament. The day was part of a long running campaign from Unite the Union into blacklisting within the construction industry.
Cases of blacklisting within construction companies is unacceptable. These workers give their time and skill to their employers and should be rewarded for their duty, not punished.
As part of the campaign, Unite is calling for a full public enquiry into blacklisting, for the process to be considered a criminal offence, and for companies found blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.
I am disappointed at the lack of clarity on the Scottish Government’s stance on this issue, with the reluctance to launch an inquiry into blacklisting. Our workers deserve full justice and to have their voices heard. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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 →