We Scots are, let’s face it, a pretty rugged bunch and, as a consequence of that, there are certain stereotypes that persist about us. These vary from being a bit foul-mouthed and enjoying the odd tipple whilst telling stories and singing songs, to the slightly more serious ideas that we are all violent lunatics with at least one sharp implement on our person at all times.
In some of our cities, such as Glasgow, this is more pronounced. Glasgow has an image of being a very rough, very violent city and, rather unfortunately, there is an element of truth in this. Historically it’s not just been Glasgow, many of our towns and cities – and indeed some of our rural communities – have been plagued by crime and violence.
It’s an issue that is, quite rightly, at the forefront of politics today; with a great deal of money, resources and effort being put into tackling crime at all levels and I truly have no hesitation in saying that the SNP, during their time in government, have made a great impact here.
Since 2007, the SNP have ensured that there are more than 1,000 new police officers on our streets, at a time when forces across England and Wales are having to cut numbers. The creation of the new Scottish Crime Campus has provided a centre for intelligence gathering, forensic science and evidence gathering that has helped to tackle serious organised crime.
This has been aided by the creation of a single national police force, further facilitating the sharing of evidence and intelligence and making cooperation between divisions even easier. The £216 million investment in the service has meant more police on the streets and better tackling of crime across the country.
The re-conviction rate has been reduced to its lowest level in 16 years as a result of the introduction of tough community sentences and automatic early release has been scrapped. This means that prisoners who pose an unacceptable threat to public safety are made to serve their sentences in full. As part of the SNP’s new prison programme, two new facilities were opened – HMP Grampian in 2014 and HMP Low Moss in 2012.
Money seized from gangs and criminal networks, amounting to some £75 million, has been reinvested into the communities in youth projects, helping to keep young people out of crime and tackling crime and criminal lifestyles at the roots.
Almost £33 million has been invested into projects to tackle domestic abuse against women and girls. This record amount of investment is helping to keep women safer and provide a way out of abusive relationships. Access to justice for the survivors of domestic abuse is also being improved greatly.
In a country with such pronounced sectarian divisions, record investment has been made to tackle instances of sectarian abuse and violence. Across Scotland, nearly everyone has been affected, directly or indirectly, by sectarianist behaviour, the SNP remain committed to wiping this deplorable behaviour out.
Scotland has also become the first part of the UK, under and SNP government, to to implement a national action plan on human rights. The SNP remains committed to tackling human rights issues and leading by example to champion human rights causes at home and abroad.
All of these things, and more, go towards the massive drops in the levels of crime across Scotland. Since the SNP took office in 2007, violent crime is down by 55%, handling of offensive weapons (including knife crime) is down by two thirds and homicides are down by more than half. In fact, overall crime is at its lowest levels in over forty years.
For a country with such a reputation in our towns and cities of violence and crime, we have come on in leaps and bounds. Our cities are now safer places to live work and visit, gangs are having less and less of a hold on our towns and communities, and the image of the violent drunkard lurking in the streets of Glasgow is becoming less true.
It is this great record we need to build on to continue making the Scotland we all love a safer and happier place. Over the course of the next parliament, there will still be much to do, though. We are not finished yet and there is still a long way to go, but there is only one party, in my view, that has the track record and the commitment to deliver the results we need.
So, if you want to see a safer Scotland, it has to be #BothVotesSNP