Scottish Government Blogs

November 30, 2015
by Tim Mitchell, Get Safe Online
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Don’t get conned out of Christmas

At this time of year as we start to focus on Christmas, what is uppermost in your thoughts for this festive season?

Catching up with family and friends? Giving and receiving gifts? Doing the Christmas shopping? A new gadget? Or maybe either celebrating away from home or just getting away from it all.

These are all exciting prospects but, sadly, this is a favourite time of year for criminals too, seizing the opportunity to exploit you when you’re focused on getting everything ready for the big day.

Every year, more of us use the internet increasingly to buy presents, stay in touch, book holidays and many other things we do at this time of year. And every year, that makes it increasingly easy for criminals to defraud us. Last Christmas, individuals and businesses in the UK reported losing a massive £16½ million to online fraudsters through online shopping and auction fraud … a 42% increase over the 2013 figure*. Black Friday and Cyber Monday – North American traditions now also firmly embedded over here – aren’t the only days fraudsters are active, they also exploit last minute shoppers, with many being stung between 20-23 December when trying to buy those last minute presents.

At Get Safe Online, we’ve put together a top ten list of tips to keep yourself, your family, your finances and your online devices safeguarded this Christmas. They cover everything from buying online to booking tickets, looking after that new phone or tablet to looking after your passwords. I urge you to take a look for yourself, as the advice really is expert, unbiased, easy to follow and what’s more – 100% free! We’ve called our campaign Don’t get conned out of Christmas because as I’ve written above, that’s what is happening more and more.

In the meantime, please just remember two things:

  • Think twice before you click: make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re doing online and that nothing seems unusual.
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

So it just remains for me to wish you a happy and peaceful festive season and a great 2016.

*Online shopping and auction fraud reports made to Action Fraud during the Christmas period (1 November 2014- 28 February 2015). January & February 2015 have been included to account for any delays in reporting incidences. 

November 30, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Vacancy: Fishery Officer (closes 29 December)

We are currently seeking applications for Fishery Officers within Marine Scotland Compliance based at various locations around Scotland.

Marine Scotland Compliance employ over 250 staff ashore, afloat and in the air, who are responsible for deterring and detecting illegal activities through effective compliance and enforcement of EU, UK and Scottish Legislation. Fishery Officers are based at 19 locations around the coast of Scotland, with those who are part of the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre working a shift system which provides 24 hour service. 

Fishery Officers investigate offences against the EU, UK and International Fisheries Regulations and put forward reports, which may ultimately lead to criminal prosecutions.

Read more and apply…

More Information

November 26, 2015
by Ian MacFarlane
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Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services Monthly Brief

Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services have recently published the November edition of the Monthly Safer Communities and Justice Brief.

The brief covers the period up to 17th November and provides, in a single place, a concise but comprehensive overview of all the most important Justice and Safer Communities statistics in Scotland. It is published on a monthly basis and readers should feel confident that the data in it are up to date.

Each monthly brief includes a special feature on its back page, drawing from recent research undertaken by Justice Analytical Services. This month’s article provides a summary from the recently published 2014-15 statistics on Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police.

Any suggestions for improvement or for other aspects to cover in the brief would be very welcome and should be addressed to

November 26, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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New report published about the Spatial dynamics of scallops in relation to the Orkney dive fishery

This new report – a Report of Fishing Industry Science Alliance (FISA) Project 03/12 – has been published in the Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science series.


The principal method of fishing for king scallops in Orkney waters is hand collection by divers. Local scallop divers, exploiting small patches of seabed, have reported that these exploited areas are repopulated within the same fishing season, potentially due to immigration from surrounding areas. Studies which quantify the rate of spatial turnover in a scallop population at a small spatial scale have not previously been conducted, and understanding the extent to which scallops move and re-colonise areas could assist in defining a sustainable fishery for scallops in Orkney waters.

Depletion fishing experiments and tagging work was conducted with funding from FISA* to determine the spatial turnover rates of scallops at the scale of individual fishing patches. The main finding of the research was that on average, the scallop population within a previously fished strip of ground 178 m by 4 m increased at a rate of more than 25 % per month due to immigration of scallops, and could be as high as 50 % per month during the summer.

These results suggest that at this small spatial scale, it is possible for a fished ground to be restored to pre-fishing scallop population levels in under a year.  This will however depend on the existence of undepleted stocks in areas adjacent to the fishing grounds. Further work is now underway to determine the real implications of this scale of movements on the Orkney scallop stock, which could in turn inform local fisheries management.

*FISA draws on the combined expertise of fishermen and scientists. It was established to support collaborative research and further scientific knowledge, with the aim of supporting sustainable and effective fisheries management in Scotland.

Further Information

November 25, 2015
by planningarchitecture
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National Development Management Forum

Building networks, engaging with others, and sharing good practice were key themes at this year’s National Development Management Forum, which took place yesterday 24th November, 2015  at Scottish Government’s office Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

The event brought together 100 delegates from planning authorities, the private sector, the Agencies and central Government, to discuss and share ideas through a mix of plenary sessions and practical ‘hands-on’ workshops across a range of topical development management themes.

This is the first time the Scottish Government has run the Development  Management Forum in this format, it also marks the re-establishment of the forum after a break of several years. The new format allowed delegates to select from a number of topical workshops to attend on the day, providing the opportunity for planning officers to come together alongside their counterparts from the development industry, planning consultants, key agencies and others involved, or with an interest in, the development management process.


The aim of the day was to share experience, learn from differing perspectives, and in some cases to help inform the development of policy and practice.

Individual workshops provided the opportunity to hear first-hand from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) about changes to listed buildings procedures and the role of HES; to contribute to the development of practice aimed at streamlining EIA Scoping for Coal; and, to inform the early development of Scottish Government proposals for transposing changes to Europe’s EIA Directive.

Workshops were also held on ‘Planning for Housing Delivery’, and ‘The Place Standard’.

Reflecting on the day itself, Nicola Barclay, Director of Planning at Homes for Scotland and a guest facilitator at the forum commented: “The value of the Forum is in bringing together the different parties in a collaborative environment to share experience and build relationships to support the delivery of high quality development on the ground.”

For more information and outputs from the Forum, including workshop presentations and the presentations below.

Development Management Forum Presentations 24th November 2015 Link
HSE Land Use Planning- Transformation Workshop
EIA Directive Workshop
Streamlining Assessments Consultations Scottish Water
Planning for housing delivery Workshop
Coal, Smarter EIA Scoping Workshop
Duration of Planning Permission in Principle – Model Conditions
Gypsy Traveller sites – planning considerations in improving provision
Section 75 Agreements Improving Performance
Streamlining handling planning applications case study : Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority
Historic Environment Scotland – Shaping our Future
Follow @ScotGovPlanning on Twitter #SGDMforum2015 for highlights of the day


November 25, 2015
by John Swinney
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Austerity continues as Chancellor imposes 6% cut

The Scottish Government will see a real terms reduction of almost 6 per cent in the funding for day to day public services over the next four years, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said today.

Speaking after the Comprehensive Spending Review was announced by the Chancellor, the DFM condemned the continued “austerity of choice” but welcomed the U-turn on tax credits as a victory for the 250,000 families in Scotland who would have been painfully impacted by the cuts.

November 25, 2015
by Alex Neil
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16 Days of Action

Orange the world: End violence against women and girls

Today marks the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.

The international campaign will run until December 10th – International Human Rights Day – fitting, given that violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most grievous abuses of human rights.

As Social Justice Secretary, I am committed to working with my Cabinet colleagues, with the public sector and third sector to ensure everyone in Scotland feels equally safe. I am proud that, throughout Scotland, many dedicated organisations will host events to promote available services and raise awareness of the nature and prevalence of violence against women.

It is a tragic fact that, today, women and girls in Scotland and across the world are at risk of and experiencing violence and abuse – precisely because they are women and girls. In Scotland, gender based violence continues to disproportionately affect women and girls. 80% of survivors of domestic abuse are female, as are 95% of rape victims. Sexual abuse and harassment continues to be an issue. Women and girls from some communities are at risk or, or have experienced, the brutality of female genital mutilation or the misery of forced marriage.

Recent publications – from Police Scotland’s domestic abuse statistics to the Scottish Social Attitudes module on public attitudes which is published today – provide a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go in tackling this issue. There have been successful initiatives and an undoubted shift in attitudes, but much remains to be done.

It is clear that there are no quick fixes to this deep-rooted problem. It requires significant economic, social and cultural change over the long term, that calls for the sustained commitment not just of a wide range of partners but of individuals and communities too. This was highlighted yesterday in Parliament during the debate on violence against women and the 16 days of action. It is clear there is significant cross party support for further progress to be made.

Funding is to tackle this issue is at record levels – this year alone, we are investing £11.8m from the Equality Budget to support a range of projects and initiative along with an additional £20m (over 2015-18) from the Justice portfolio. This funding is supporting organisations like Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance who continue to do fantastic work in supporting survivors of violence and abuse, and in driving approaches to prevention and early intervention.

These are significant developments, and a sign of our strong and enduring commitment to this agenda. However, it is through the effective implementation of Equally Safe that real change will be delivered in the long term. Equally Safe states that VaWG is underpinned by gender inequality, and in order to prevent and eradicate it from society we must focus our efforts on delivering greater gender equality, tackling perpetrators, and intervening early and effectively to prevent violence.

The fact our approach is underpinned by a gender analysis which has drawn favourable comment internationally, with Scotland being recognised as progressive in this area. We are taking steps to achieve this equality – ending segregation in employment, getting more women into senior positions, increasing opportunities for political representation, and eliminating the gender pay gap.

Positive outcomes in these areas will make a significant contribution to Equally Safe’s objectives around Primary Prevention, which seeks to address the underlying factors that drive gender based violence.

Earlier this month, along with Cllr Harry McGuigan (Spokesperson for Community Safety at CoSLA) I co-chaired the first meeting of the Violence Against Women and Girls Joint Strategic Board, which comprises senior leaders from 16 different organisations across government, local authority, police, health and the third sector. This is an important step forward – only by working together, sharing information and ensuring this issue is at the top of everyone’s agenda, can we create real change and ultimately eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The next 16 days will rightly see this issue being put in the spotlight and I want to commend and thank all those organisations who dedicate their time to helping support survivors of violence and abuse and who work hard in preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. I hope that we can all continue to work together to ensure that women and girls in Scotland are free from violence, and the attitudes that help to perpetuate it.

Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights

November 24, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia: Survey 1715S Programme

Duration: 18 November – 8 December 2015

Fishing Gear:

GOV Trawl (BT137 – Strengthened) and ground gear D.


  1. To participate in the ICES co-ordinated western division demersal trawling survey;
  2. To obtain temperature and salinity data profiles at each trawling position; and
  3. To collect additional biological data in connection with the EU data collection framework (DCF).


Scotia set sail on 18 November and (after all safety drills and shakedown trawl shoot) commenced fishing operations on the stations to the west of Orkney.  A half landing will be made around 1 December, into Greenock, to exchange staff.  The survey will end in Aberdeen on 8 December with all staff, equipment and fishing gear returning to the Marine Laboratory.


One trawl haul of thirty minutes duration will be made at the positions (approximate) shown on the attached chart and table.  Final trawl locations will be decided after SIC consultations with Fishing Master and Captain.  For each haul, the Scanmar monitoring system and NOAA bottom contact sensor will be used to observe and record the performance and geometry of the trawl and trawl doors.

Fish Sampling:

All fish will be treated according to current standard research vessel procedures and additional biological data will be collected as determined by EU data regulation 1639/2001 and 1581/2004.

Hydrography Sampling:

CTD casts will be taken at each trawl station.  The thermosalinograph will be run continuously to obtain sea surface temperature and salinity throughout the survey area.


Further Information:

Scotia 1715S - Trawl Locations















November 24, 2015
by Martin Darroch, Chief Executive, Harper Macleod LLP
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HM, Mr Clooney and the Scottish Business Pledge

I doubt that I’ll ever again have cause to mention Harper Macleod and George Clooney in the same sentence. The reason I can is that my firm was fortunate enough to win the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award at last week’s Scottish Business Awards – whose guest speaker brought a dash of Clooney-mania to the country.

Why is this of any note for Scotland’s Economy Blog, you may ask. Well, by only three degrees of separation, the award linked Mr Clooney with the Scottish Business Pledge.

Earlier this year, Harper Macleod met all nine elements of the Pledge agreement committing businesses to follow fair and progressive practices. It was an invaluable exercise in benchmarking the firm’s CSR programme, HM Community, which has been an important part of our development over the past 10 years.

In turn, that was followed by our Scottish Business Awards submission and ultimately a date with George (okay, Rob Brydon was actually on stage as we collected the award in front of more than 2000 of Scotland’s business leaders … but he does a mean Clooney impression.)

Almost a decade ago, we established HM Community to ensure that we could effectively identify, monitor and measure our CSR activities and ensure that they were aligned to our values and CSR principles. We’ve worked hard to evolve a comprehensive programme allowing us to make a positive impact on the environment, community and society.

HM Community addresses the particular needs of our colleagues, the legal & business community and society as a whole. We’ve built a positive business culture and effective partnerships that have delivered for all of our stakeholder group. Within those have been some memorable and rewarding highlights – such as supporting Scotland’s leading wheelchair racer Sammi Kinghorn as she went from Glasgow 2014 to World Championship success, or the partnerships which have seen us support the likes of ScotEDGE and Entrepreneurial Spark in their work with the next generation of innovators.

Our CSR Committee evaluates and monitors all our activities on an ongoing basis, benchmarking our activities against independent standards. The launch of the Scottish Business Pledge, which incorporated the Living Wage commitment we had already met, was a perfect fit with HM Community and the accreditation process provided an opportunity to review all our CSR activities against its elements.

We identified where we already met the Pledge requirements, where we could enhance our existing programme and how to continue to focus on delivering a holistic CSR strategy that represented the interests of all our people and communities. Following this, the submission to the Scottish Business Awards was straightforward, though winning the award was a genuine (and very pleasant) surprise.

When we signed up to the Scottish Business Pledge, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This thriving legal firm provides an excellent example of the way that an ambitious, fair and inclusive approach to business leads to greater growth and innovation.”

Meeting all the elements of the Pledge and winning the CSR award were both great achievements for the firm, however, the point of this blog is not to congratulate ourselves on winning an award. It’s simply to recognise that putting fairness, equality, opportunity, innovation and social responsibility at the heart of what you do makes sound business sense.

We have made it fundamental to our strategy for achieving sustainable growth in terms of both our stakeholders and business. That’s what the Scottish Business Pledge is all about, and we’d encourage anyone thinking about signing up to go for it.

And if George is ever thinking of making Ocean’s 14, there are a few of the team at Harper Macleod who’d be happy to join his gang.

November 20, 2015
by Mandy Haeburn-Little, Director at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre
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Scotland’s first Cyber Resilience Strategy

Wherever there’s a yin there’s a yang. It’s always been that way with new business opportunity and so it is with the digital opportunity now open to Scotland and the counter balance of cyber threat.

The good news is that digital opportunity, if grasped well and with an understanding of what that threat looks like, will transform Scotland’s ability to attract new investors and business and will support delivery of Scotland’s proud history for innovation. And we all want to see that reputation continue and flourish.

Understanding digital opportunity is core to this. Pursuing innovation with resilience and security in mind will be the key to realizing these benefits. So now, as never before, we need to continue and develop the unique and outstanding skills that Scotland is already producing in this area, whether it be gamification, or the excellent digital forensic work and the cyber Academy at Napier, the ethical hacking students in Abertay or the similar strong graduates at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian or St Andrews amongst others. The level of skills being produced right now is what will differentiate Scotland’s innovation moving forward. If these skills move on elsewhere, then we lose the opportunity to build and grow a genuinely resilient and robust business community for Scotland.

But over and above innovation, with the launch of Scotland’s first  Cyber Resilience Strategy we have the chance to consider and support the most vulnerable in our society and that surely is a major part of our DNA. Making digital public services available to those who need them and making them secure, easy to understand and use is vital. Whether it be your health records, your appointments, your services from your local authority – having straightforward, efficient systems and helping others to use them should remove the need for long queues and missed times.

The first important action is to recognise the potential risk and become more cyber aware. Research has shown that about 80% of cybercrime can be prevented by simply getting the basics right. This can be as simple as choosing, using and protecting your passwords carefully, and using a different one for every account, to always having up-to-date internet security software. It’s not all about high level controls and buying expensive systems and professional advice, it’s about treating cyber resilience as an organisations would health and safety.

As a citizen of Scotland, your journey of the future will be a very different one to that of the past . It will mean we all need to learn new skills. There is no getting away from that. Digital and cyber resilience skills will become a greater priority for anyone with customers or delivering a service but it will also be a priority for all of us. The creation of a resilient and safe digital Scotland is now clearly within our grasp and that is a great and unique opportunity.