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Reform Scotland News: 22 June 2011

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

 

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.

 

Politics

Sectarianism: Football supporters could reportedly be jailed for singing God Save the Queen or Flower of Scotland under the SNP’s new law to crack down on sectarianism.  Making the sign of the cross or singing Rule Britannia could also be regarded as an offence under certain circumstances once the legislation comes into force for the next football season. Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham yesterday said that such songs and gestures could be regarded as offensive acts in certain circumstances when she was questioned about the SNP’s anti-sectarian bill being fast-tracked through parliament. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1, Scottish Sun page 1, Times page 7, Daily Telegraph page 11)

 

David Cameron: David Cameron has warned that the SNP government will not do “the right thing by the people of Scotland” because it is too consumed by an independence referendum on a day when his own commitment to a respect agenda was questioned. The comments at one of his regular briefings to journalists represented the first serious attack by the Prime Minister on the Nationalists since he launched his “respect agenda” with Scotland after taking office last year. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 7, Courier page 8)

 

Alex Salmond: Alex Salmond’s SNP won last month’s election because of “competence not the constitution”, a major academic study of the election campaign has concluded. The Scottish Election Study interviewed voters before and after the 5 May election to analyse their thoughts as they went to the polls. It showed how Scots were mostly unmoved by opposition claims that an SNP victory would trigger moves towards independence. Instead, large numbers of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative-minded supporters put the constitution to one side and supported Mr Salmond’s re-election on the basis he had run a competent administration in the four years previously. (Scotsman page 14-15)

 

Economy

Housing: More than four in five Scottish homes bought since 2006 are now worth less than their purchase price, fuelling fears over negative equity. House-price falls over the past three years have decimated property values in some parts of Scotland, with many homeowners facing difficulties selling their homes or securing a competitive mortgage.  Of more than 374,000 homes bought in Scotland since 2006, 306,000 are now worth less than the owner paid for them, according to research by property website Zoopla. (Scotsman page 1)

                                              

Justice

Single Police Force: The creation of a single national police force in Scotland has failed to win support in a Scottish Government consultation.  Less than 10 per cent of respondents backed the move aimed at streamlining the current structure of eight forces in an effort to save money and overhaul the way policing is delivered. The Scottish Police Federation has already voted against the national force at its annual conference earlier this year.  (Scotsman page 13, Scottish Daily Mail page 4, Herald page 6, Courier page 1, Daily Telegraph page 5)

 

Rape Charges: Almost two-thirds of rape charges brought before Scottish courts for trial did not result in a conviction, new Crown Office figures have revealed. Anti-rape campaigners have warned that many victims feel “very let down” by the justice system after statistics showed that conviction rates fell in 2008-9. The Crown Office said 62 per cent of charges indicted for trial did not lead to conviction, while 32 per cent did – the remaining 6 per cent of cases had not been concluded.  The figures represent a fall from 36 per cent the previous year, 2007-8, representing 19 less convictions. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 7, Daily Telegraph page 10)

 

Sex Trafficking: Four people have appeared in court to face one of the first prosecutions in Scotland under new sex trafficking legislation. Stephen Craig, Malcolm McNeil, Gordon Dryburgh and Sarah Beukan are all accused of moving women and men around the UK for prostitution. The four, deny moving 14 men and women to various addresses for sex, between January 2009 and September 2010.  (Scotsman page 13)

 

Transport

Rail Link: Scotland’s two biggest cities have thrown their weight behind a bid to see the £32 billion high-speed rail link extended north of the Border. Edinburgh and Glasgow city council leaders yesterday warned failure to extend the route to Scotland would damage the cities’ economic futures, during a summit in Edinburgh at which Scottish transport minister Keith Brown argued the case for such a move was now “robust and clear”. The first section of the track from London to Birmingham is due to be completed in 2026, while a second section to Manchester, Leeds and possibly further north could be finished around 2032-33.  (Scotsman page 17)

 

Health

Drug Side-Effects: Around 60,000 patients in Scotland are prescribed drugs that have a high risk of side-effects, a study shows. Researchers in Dundee found that many doctors were giving patients treatments which could increase their chances of suffering a reaction due to their age, other health problems or the number of medications they were already taking. The experts, writing in the British Medical Journal, said in some cases GPs would have good reasons to give high-risk drugs, due to the need to treat illnesses or a lack of other options. But they said wide differences between practices across Scotland meant there was scope to tackle variations in prescribing patterns and make it safer. (Scotsman page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 21, Herald page 5, Times page 19, Courier page 6)