Margaret Mitchell MSP

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Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

My first question is for Mr Cowie, who mentioned that many detainees have mental health problems. The report highlights that

“Access to mental health referral schemes is limited.”

What is being done to address that?



Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Is the situation better in some areas of the country? You are talking about a lack of consistency in what a detainee can expect from one area of the country to another.



Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Mr McFadyen talked about one day’s training for new volunteers and existing volunteers. The SPA website says that that will consist of practical training and a theoretical exercise. Will you elaborate on what kind of training there will be? Will it allow volunteers to feel confident about interacting with detainees who might have mental illnesses and alcohol or drug abuse issues?



Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Mr Laidlaw, do you have any comments on that? You obviously have vast experience of custody visiting. Is there anything that you would incorporate into the training or are there any comments that you would like to make on it?



Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

I have a further question for Mr Diamond. In its submission to the consultation on the reform of the police and fire and rescue services, Unison was very much in favour of ICV being put on a statutory basis. However, it also recommended a role for local authorities to review and report on custody visiting as appropriate and that there should be a role for covering court cells. Has either of those two recommendations been followed through?



Justice Sub-Committee on Policing 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

It was one of your recommendations, I think.



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
5. Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

To ask the Scottish Government how it is monitoring proposals for local government budget savings to ensure that they have no adverse consequences for public safety. (S4O-03595)



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

In that case, does the minister consider that residents who pay their council tax are fully entitled to adequate and safe street lighting and that South Lanarkshire Council’s recent proposal to de-energise the street lighting in the evening in Castle Avenue in Bothwell, which is a busy area for joggers, dog walkers and cyclists, cannot be justified on such grounds and could be dangerous?



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

It is important to stress at the outset that since Police Scotland was formed more than 18 months ago, front-line police officers have worked tremendously hard to keep us safe from crime.

At the same time, those same officers have had to adapt to seismic organisational and cultural change against a backdrop of Chief Constable Sir Stephen House taking a number of controversial policy decisions with far-reaching implications. That has resulted in the new single police force attracting the attention of politicians and the public for the wrong reasons.

The chief constable’s policy on stop and search and the deployment of armed police officers to routine incidents, coupled with the closure or reduction in hours of dozens of police station front counters earlier this year, have been the subject of extensive criticism and deep concern.

It is significant that only after the decision on police station front counters was taken was there a belated consultation. Despite opposition, the proposals were still approved. The chief constable’s unilateral approach undermined the process of meaningful consultation and accountability that is central to our democracy.

There is an important point here that the cabinet secretary does not seem to understand. Politicians’ comments about and criticism of the lack of transparency and accountability are not political point scoring, as Brian Docherty, the chairman of the SPF, ill-advisedly suggested recently. Rather, such criticism is fundamental to the role of elected members of the Scottish Parliament.

Furthermore, although the rank-and-file officers did a splendid job policing the Commonwealth games, many MSPs have received complaints about the unfavourable conditions that those same policemen and women were subjected to and about how those grievances were handled.

More worryingly still, a survey by the ASPS of senior front-line police staff found that 11 per cent of those questioned felt that they had been bullied or intimidated. The survey also indicated a prevailing culture of targets, which certainly has implications in relation to stop and search and road traffic offences.

Consequently, the Scottish Conservatives firmly believe that, following the merger to form Police Scotland, it is essential that police staff and officers have a mechanism that offers them the means to raise legitimate concerns without fearing for their job security, where those concerns can be voiced anonymously, heard and treated seriously.

For that reason, my amendment calls for the creation of a whistleblowers hotline similar to the one that is currently in use for the national health service, which is also a critical front-line service.

The motion refers to the lack of any “meaningful contribution” from the SPA on the arming of police officers. It is totally unacceptable that the SPA, as the principal body that holds Police Scotland to account, was not consulted more widely on the standing firearms authority before the policy was introduced. It is little wonder that the SPA chairman Vic Emery has expressed concern that the body’s

“scrutiny role is very much after the fact.”—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 21 August 2014; c 481.]

The situation self-evidently cannot be allowed to continue. It is unacceptable and a dereliction of duty for the cabinet secretary to seek to absolve himself of any responsibility to address such a deeply worrying state of affairs.

The deployment of armed police to routine incidents has been a particular source of concern for the public. Indeed, the lack of transparency in decision making in Police Scotland erodes trust in the single force at a time when the police need to retain and increase that trust in local communities and throughout the country. That is the policing by consent to which the motion refers.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has sought to be constructive in our scrutiny of Police Scotland. That includes making positive suggestions for improvement, such as introducing a whistleblowers hotline or employing retired police officers in schools to free up other officers to return to the front line.

The call in my amendment for the cabinet secretary to “consider his position” is not made lightly. However, when the general public’s trust in Scotland’s law and order enforcers is in danger of breaking down, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

It is the cabinet secretary’s duty to ensure the effectiveness of the checks and balances that should guarantee the enforcement of essential accountability for and transparency of policy decisions that are taken by the chief constable of Scotland’s single force.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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NoCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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NoCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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YesDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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YesDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11178: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11114.1: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10824: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10823: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10804: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10649: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10497: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10460: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10298: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10278.2: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22936: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03595: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22466: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22226: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22227: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22228: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21815: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21812: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03329: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21608: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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