6th March 2018

Social media checks should be used for firearms applicants, says report

Social media background checks should be used more often by police considering whether to grant firearms licences, according to a new report. A review of Police Scotland’s approach to firearms licensing suggested social media accounts – which are currently not routinely checked – could be a useful source of information about an applicant’s suitability to hold a firearm. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) highlighted cases in England and Wales where extremist views or “inappropriate” photographs came to light which might have had an impact on the issuing of certificates.


Social media ‘may be used as one source’ in firearms licence checks

Police are considering carrying out social media background checks for extremist views as part of the vetting process for firearms licences. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) identified online activity as a key source of information about whether a person should be allowed to own a gun. But HMICS said officers do not routinely check social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook when considering whether to grant firearms licences. Police Scotland said it was looking at expanding its use of social media as a means of checking on the suitability of an individual to hold a gun licence.


Former top policeman looks back on 30-year career that started as a real-life Hamish MacBeth

During 30 years in the police, Ian McNeish has done it all – from knocking out a knife-wielding assailant with a pool cue to being chased by a bull. Now, 14 years after leaving the force, Ian, 71, has remembered his life in uniform in his memoirs, The Fearn Bobby.  Packed with anecdotes, it traces his policing career across urban and rural beats and examines Scottish policing then and now.  But the former Chief Inspector from Bonnybridge, who likens much of his career to that of TV’s Highland policeman Hamish Macbeth, says Police Scotland has become too centralised and should place more emphasis on community policing.


Officers ‘scared to stop and search’ influence knife crime debate

Fears of a further spike in knife-related attacks come as “petrified” officers are giving up on stop and searches of suspects in the wake of new rules imposed to prevent them unfairly targeting black and ethnic people, a former Policing Minister claims.  Backbench MP Sir Mike Penning said rising crime threatens the Government’s credibility as figures he obtained from the House of Commons library reveal police challenged a million fewer people on the streets during 2016/17 than in 2010/11. The ONS-based statistics show searches “dropping through the floor” – down 21 per cent in the last year – coincided with a 20 per cent increase in police-reported knife offences. Meanwhile, Police Scotland officers are still using the “valuable tactic” of stop and search at a higher rate than their counterparts in England in Wales, despite the introduction of a new code. In 2014, then Home Secretary Theresa May revised the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Code of Practice A to make clear what constituted “reasonable grounds for suspicion” – the legal basis upon which officers carry out the vast majority of stops.


SPA told to ‘refocus and refresh’

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) still presents a valid governance model but is beset by legacy challenges, an internal review has concluded. The SPA needs to refresh itself to become more effective and efficient to restore its original aims, according to a report by Deputy Chair Nicola Marchant and Western Isles Council Chief Executive Malcolm Burr. The organisation is struggling to collaborate and share information, and needs to foster a new culture of re-engagement with local partners.  The review, requested the same month former chair Andrew Flanagan stepped down over concerns the SPA lacked transparency, also called on the SPA to improve its future-planning and secure solid leadership with improved management skills.


Scottish people from Asian backgrounds FOUR times more likely to be searched by cops

Scots from Asian backgrounds are almost four times more likely to be searched by police than white people, according to figures.  And people from a black Caribbean background are also more likely to be subjected to a stop and search from officers.  The discrepancy comes despite data showing a search of people from ethnic minorities is less likely to lead to detection of a crime.  Labour MSP Anas Sarwar last night said the figures – which came as part of a six-month review into the controversial policy – raised concerns about ethnic profiling by the police.  But the report author, Professor Susan McVie, said the figures should be treated with caution because the ethnic minority data is partially based on information in the 2011 census.



Two-year sex inquiry into Scots cop accused of rape collapses in seconds over alleged victim’s bombshell email

A two-year inquiry into a Scottish cop accused of rape and sex assaults unravelled in seconds due to an alleged victim’s bombshell email. Sergeant Blair Pettigrew, 35, was due to face trial for attacking women in Glasgow and Ayrshire.  But a key accuser claimed she may have mixed him up with “someone else”.  A source close to the case, which involved 30 officers quizzing more than 200 witnesses, said: “This is a major embarrassment for police.”



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