Solicitors to boycott extra police station duties
Solicitors will refuse to carry out a new category of legal aid work when a reform to criminal law comes into force next week. The mass boycott, which observers said could cause the legal aid system to collapse, follows advice from regional bar associations, which have told members not to respond to calls made under the revised police station duty scheme. The scheme, enshrined in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, will be brought in next Thursday and enables anyone in custody to contact a solicitor for advice, regardless of the severity of the offence or whether they have been charged. At present only those about to be formally interviewed by officers have the right to legal advice.
Rivals unite to back repeal of the Offensive Behaviour Act
A move to overturn a controversial law aimed at tackling sectarian behaviour at football has been backed by a Holyrood committee. A slim majority on the justice committee supported the Labour MSP James Kelly’s bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. Six opposition MSPs backed the bill while five SNP MSPs withheld support. The majority of committee members found existing laws generally already cover behaviour the act criminalises.
Police chief attacks ‘disturbing’ timing of new complaint
Scotland’s senior police officer has hit back after a sixth complaint against him was referred to investigators almost a year after the incident that prompted the allegation. Lawyers for Phil Gormley, chief constable of Police Scotland, said the referral of another complaint after such a time span appeared to be “contrived”. They dismissed the allegation as “spurious” and said he was “disturbed” by the timing. Mr Gormley is on special leave while allegations of bullying against him — which he denies —are investigated. The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) is investigating three complaints from Police Scotland officers. Another two complaints made last year are not under investigation.
Police bosses in unseemly blame game, says former top cop
An increasingly frantic blame game has broken out at the top of Scotland’s justice system, one of the country’s most senior former officers has claimed. Graeme Pearson, who headed the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency before a term as a Labour MSP, said frontline cops deserved better from their squabbling bosses. Police Scotland and its oversight body, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), have been mired in controversy in recent months, with a series of high profile departures.
Controversial Scottish sectarian laws face the axe after MSPs back repeal
Controversial laws aimed at cracking down on sectarian abuse at football are facing the axe after a MSPs at Holyrood backed their repeal. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act “needs to be changed” according to Holyrood’s justice committee, which found that existing laws could be used to tackle much of the abuse being targeted. Opposition parties came together to out-vote Nationalist MSPs on the committee. It will now go forward to the full Parliament, where a repeat of the united opposition stance would mean the SNP minority government is defeated and the laws are axed. Justice committee convenor Margaret Mitchell said: “Whether the act is finally repealed or not, the message that came through from the vast majority of witnesses was that this legislation needs to be changed. https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/controversial-scottish-sectarian-laws-face-the-axe-after-msps-back-repeal-1-4664450
Will tasers aid lonely Highland police officers?
Opinion been split in the Highlands over controversial plans to arm rural police with tasers. Officers will be specially trained in handling the weapons, which shoot electric shocks, in what Police Scotland hopes will improve safety for both staff and the public. Around 500 more tasers will be put on to Scotland’s streets in the coming months, including in the Highlands, although it is not yet known how many will be deployed here in the region. Councillor Matthew Reiss, former inspector and Highland Council’s strategic lead for police and fire, thinks the tasers will help officers working alone, particularly in remote areas far from back up, while Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, also a former police officer, is concerned that arming police will distance them from the public. The move was sparked by a massive increase of attacks on officers last year, when 964 were assaulted, compared to 764 in 2016. Cllr Reiss said: “I think a lot of people probably don’t realise the reality of working as a police officer in a rural area.
Chief constable left ‘disturbed’ by the timing of allegation
Layer’s acting for Scotland’s most senior police officer have described the latest allegation against him as ‘spurious and contrived’ and have questioned its timing. The PIRC is assessing the complaint against Chief Constable Phil Gormley which is understood to have come from Martin Leven, Police Scotland’s head of IT.
Click here to read more.