Scottish Government Blogs

April 4, 2016
by SG Admin
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Scottish Government Secondment Opportunity

Scottish Government Secondment Opportunity — Digital Communication Manager – Corporate Communications, Office of the Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive, NHSScotland

Applications are invited from digital communications professionals with exceptional strategic knowledge of all aspects of digital engagement and communication, web architecture and content management systems.

This secondment offers an excellent opportunity to develop knowledge and experience of delivering effective digital communications and engagement in support of Scottish Government policy for health and social care. The role is key to ensuring that the Health and Social Care Directorates have an effective and engaging online presence, consistent with the First Minister’s ambitions for open government and the Scottish Government’s digital first strategy.  Working with policy and communications colleagues across the Scottish Government and NHSScotland, the postholder will be required to show leadership in ensuring that we are at the forefront of digital developments, managing our online presences, providing advice and support and promoting the use of effective digital communication.

The secondment will be for a 23 month period initially with the possibility of extension, and is based at St Andrew’s House, Edinburgh.

Main duties

1. To provide leadership of staff who are engaged in the process of publishing and approving web content across the Health and Social Care Directorates.
2. To be responsible for all web content generated by the Health and Social Care Directorates, ensuring that it is all fit for publication and adheres to agreed web standards and styles.
3. To train and support a network of staff who are involved in the process of publishing web content.
4. To liaise with staff to generate timely and useful online content.
5. To promote digital communication in all its forms across the Health Directorates.
6. To evaluate the effectiveness of online publication and engagement through key channels and platforms.
7. To edit and publish key online publications including the Health and Social Care eNewsletter.
7. To stay abreast of current technologies and methodologies in order to ensure that the Health and Social Care Directorates are at the forefront of digital developments.
8. Provide leadership and co-ordination for NHSScotland digital communication, maintaining excellent working relationships and chairing the Social Media sub-group of the Strategic Communicators Group.

Skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications required

The successful candidate must have:

1. At least five years’ experience of digital communications/publishing and digital engagement
2. Experience of providing advice and support on the effective use of digital engagement platforms including knowledge of the most current thinking on  digital engagement
3. Hands on experience of using Content Management Systems
4. Experience of evaluating digital communication/engagement
5. Demonstrable project management experience
6. Excellent communications skills with the ability to build excellent relationships  at all levels.
7. Experience of delivering government engagement programmes.

In addition, it would be desirable if the candidate can demonstrate: knowledge and experience of the full communications mix; and strategic communications planning knowledge and experience.

Remuneration and conditions of secondment

The successful candidate will remain on their employers salary rate, terms and conditions.  They will continue to be paid by their employer and will remain an employee of their organisation during the period of secondment. The employer (donor) organisation will be expected to invoice the Scottish Government Directorate representative on a quarterly basis to recover salary and on costs during the secondment period.

Further information and applications

For further information or an informal chat about the secondment opportunity, please contact Andrew Wilkie on or telephone 0131 244 1830.

The donor employer must consent to the secondment application being put forward.

Applications for this secondment should be made by forwarding a CV and covering letter by Friday, April 15, 2016 to:


March 30, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Joint Warrior Training Activity: 11th to 23rd April 2016

Joint Warrior (JW) 161, will take place between 11th and 23th April 2016 and will comprise of a programme of exercises conducted by land forces, warships, submarines and aircraft across the UK. The maritime element is focussed in the offshore and coastal waters to the north east, north and north west of Scotland.

Further Information

March 23, 2016
by Elizabeth Sloan
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Updated Equally Safe published

Today we have published an updated version of Equally Safe, Scotland’s Strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls in Scotland.

Violence against women and girls, in any form, has no place in our vision for a safe, strong, successful Scotland.   It damages health and wellbeing, limits freedom and potential, and is a violation of the most fundamental human rights.   The Scottish Government, CoSLA and key partners are committed to preventing and eradicating it once and for all.

This strategy, which was originally published in 2014 and has now been updated, provides a framework to help us do that.  It was developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA in association with a wide range of partners from public and third sector organisations.  This updated version has been supported by further engagement with children’s organisations.  We are immensely grateful to all those organisations for their support, and looking forward to working with them in implementing Equally Safe’s vision.

Equally Safe is our country’s strategy to take action on all forms of violence against women and girls.   By this we mean violent and abusive behaviour directed at women and girls precisely because they are women and girls.  Behaviour which is carried out predominantly by men. Behaviour that stems from systemic, deep rooted women’s inequality, and which includes domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault, commercial sexual exploitation (like prostitution), and so called ‘honour based’ violence like female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Whatever form it takes, violence against women and girls can have both an immediate and long-lasting impact on the women, children and young people directly involved. It  is quite simply unacceptable for modern day Scotland and does not reflect the country of equality we aspire to become.

This is not to say that we haven’t made progress in recent decades. The work of our partners and a wide range of organisations over many years has placed violence against women and girls firmly on the agenda. Significant investment in services and provision have been made by consecutive Scottish Governments and local authorities. The issue is a priority for Police Scotland and of key importance to statutory agencies who are serious in supporting victims and tackling perpetrators.

However, it is clear that much more needs to be done.  We need to eliminate the systemic gender inequality that lies at the root of violence against women and girls, and we need to be bold in how we do that through prioritising a relentless focus on prevention. At the same time, we need to make the best use of resources and drive continuous improvement in ensuring that women and girls at risk of and experiencing violence and abuse receive joined up, effective mainstream and specialist service provision across Scotland.

Each and every area of government and wider society has an important role to play in tackling this issue. Specialist organisations remain key in supporting those affected by violence and abuse of course, but it is not just an issue for them.  It needs the engagement of the full range of interests including, local authorities, Police Scotland, the NHS, local authorities, the civil and criminal justice systems, social work, housing, media, the business sector, trade unions, third sector organisations and individuals and communities too.

It is only by working together across every area of Scottish life that we will successfully prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.  This is a strategy that demands major and sustained change from us all so that we can create a Scotland to be proud of, where all our citizens flourish and are Equally Safe.

Joint foreword to Equally Safe by Alex Neil MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights) and Cllr Harry McGuigan (Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, CoSLA)

March 23, 2016
by planningarchitecture
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Upcoming Planning & Architecture News

From 24th March there are restrictions on communication until after May 5, Scottish Parliament Election 

Here are some of our upcoming changes and projects during this pre-election period.

Forums – Atlantic Quay, Glasgow

SEA/HRA forum is taking place on 28th April 2016  #SEAHRASForum.
Development Plan Forum 2016 is taking place on 29th April  #DPForum2016


APD / SEA consultation . In addition to the recently launched consultation on a replacement to Air Passenger Duty, consultation has also launched on the SEA Screening and Scoping report. Views and submissions are welcomed though the consultation page or on the online discussion forum.

SAQP 2016

SAQP Awards are now open for entries.

This year we’re delighted to announce that the SAQP has been streamlined and enhanced with the introduction of two new exciting Awards.  One for Personal Achievement in Planning and the other, People’s choice Award. You will find out more about all of the awards on our SAQP webpage We look forward to seeing your entries.

Keep up to date by following us on Twitter #SAQP2016



March 23, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Round-up of the latest Scottish Marine & Freshwater Science publications

March has seen a bumper number of Scottish Marine & Freshwater Science publications being released. In case you’ve missed any, here they are:

  • Measurement of Hearing in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 11
  • Collection of Data to Inform the Implementation of a Discards Ban: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 12
  • Spring salmon on the River South Esk, Scotland: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 10
  • Technical, Logistical, and Economic Considerations for the Development and Implementation of a Scottish Salmon Counter Network: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 2
  • Swimming depth of sea trout: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 13
  •  Crab and lobster fisheries in Scotland: results of stock assessments 2009-2012: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 9

For more details of other publications in this series, check out the Scottish Marine & Freshwater Science publications website.


March 23, 2016
by Scott McLear
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Prototyping a life events model for logo
This is a blog post by the team.

life event. noun. a major event that changes a person’s status or circumstances, such as giving birth, getting married, getting divorced, dealing with the death of spouse or losing a job. Life events are often discussed in terms of stress.

Our team has been exploring how a life event model could help improve our product and help meet the needs of users at common points in their lives.

Last year we co-designed domestic abuse content with Scottish Women’s Aid to help people report domestic abuse and find organisations that offer emotional support and practical advice. Usability testing showed we need to get better at joining this type of information up with other sections of the site (e.g. ‘emergency housing’ and ‘help with benefits and childcare’). I’s simple to find the information you know you are looking for… but what about the things you don’t know you need? When something unexpected or life-changing happens we want to surface the right information as quickly and easily as possible.

The landscape of sites (government, public sector, private sector and third sector) that citizens use to get information for any one life event can be overwhelming. Our goal is to pull together information and links in a way which is meaningful and helpful, aiding users as their needs unfold.

Initial brainstorming from a cross-discipline team covered life events from having a baby to emigrating and what a journey currently looks like across multiple websites. A sub team has been working on a prototype for how changes to’s design and information architecture could be used to present one life event. This will allow us to better utilise data to inform, group, deliver and measure these complex journeys in order to create a better experience for users by joining up public services.

How will this affect me?

Life events, and specifically relationship breakdown, are well-researched topics, so our first step was to look at what research is already out there that could help us understand the needs of potential users. We first identified the specific groups of people who might be confronted with separation from a partner – people who are cohabiting, married or in a civil partnership. Our desk research explored the following themes:

  • Stages of relationship breakdown
  • The role of online information and support
  • Areas where support is needed for people experiencing a relationship breakdown
  • The need for a joined up approach to support

Following this, we ran a 2hr session with citizens who had been through a separation, to understand their experiences and map their needs. We’ll use this research to inform the next phase of content planning.

Understanding our users

When planning and designing content for, one of our biggest challenges is understanding the context of why someone is looking for information.

For example, we know from our data review that ‘divorce’ is a popular search term. When users know what they’re looking for, we can help them make informed decisions to complete their task. But as our discovery has revealed, it’s likely there are other things a person may need support with:

  • Looking for ways to help with a sudden drop in household income (e.g. applying for a benefit, looking for a job or getting help with debt)
  • Speaking to a solicitor and worrying about the legal fees
  • Considering leaving an abusive relationship
  • Looking for a new place to stay (over half of all homeless applications in 2014 to 2015 were due to a relationship breakdown or being asked to leave, according to Shelter Scotland)

Using data to identify user needs

As 80% of traffic to comes from organic search, we know that our content for life events needs to be focused on what users are searching for based on the terms they use to search and must be discoverable in major search engines, so we started the analytics research for life events with a simple search.

We searched for ‘relationship breakdown’ to see what information users would find right now, and which websites they would find it on. Using this search as a starting point, we were able to identify the top results from public and third sector websites, and look more closely at the search queries that are driving traffic to them.

To understand the bigger picture of search traffic to these sites, we put the top results into Google’s Keyword Planner and looked at keyword ideas (search terms) and their average monthly search volumes. Exporting the data to Google Sheets allowed us to group search terms into common themes and sort by their search demand (average monthly search volume) – removing search terms that didn’t meet our demand threshold.

The output of this process was a list of over 600 search terms, each receiving between 140 and 27,000 monthly searches on average, categorised into roughly 20 themes. Using Tableau we visualised the data in a treemap.

The research gave us insight into common user needs that might not have initially been associated with relationship breakdown, for example ‘how does a relationship breakdown affect my pension, will, or benefits?’. The treemap clearly presents the breadth of topics and content items needed to meet user needs for this life event. Using real search data also gives us a way of focusing and prioritising content for our users, based on actual demand.

Designing the prototype

Predominantly users coming from organic search will be arriving on pages deep within the site. In our approach to design we focussed on these deeper landing pages. As 60% of traffic is from mobile and tablet devices (a figure which is increasing) these deeper pages are also where it becomes a challenge to design for devices with limited screen width.

It is typical behaviour for sidebar content to drop to the bottom of the page when viewed on mobile – this is a sensible way to handle secondary information. However, in the case of life events, we are proposing that we want to draw more attention to content which we regard as integral to that event and we need to handle this without tripping up the user.

Retaining the current page categorisation for the prototype allows pages to be tagged as being a potential part of a particular life event, or even linked to multiple events. For the prototype these life events are represented as expandable elements near the top of relevant pages. The treatment is subtle so as not to throw the user off course. When selected, the main content slides right and reveals a lower layer of related content. The benefits of this treatment are:

  1. The user retains a sense of place
  2. A large amount of scrollable related content can be served up without adding too much bulk to an otherwise succinct page

life events prototype on mobile

For the prototype we have sub-categorised content into 5 areas:

  • Family/Partner
  • Home
  • Health/Wellbeing
  • Finances
  • Profession/role

Selecting any of these links will show a page with the same treatment regarding that particular life event, but will drop any other related life events to the bottom of the content (recognising that the user has chosen to go down the path of one particular life event).

View our full prototype presentation.

Where we go next

As this is just a simple prototype we have a long way to go before we could implement the life events model into our site. We’re taking the prototype to users to gather their feedback – firstly to test that the life events model is an acceptable way to theme and organise content, then to test our design assumptions.

Our team highlighted several challenges through the creation of the prototype, including the difficulty of presenting information too early in the process, which can cause extra stress; showing a page about avoiding homelessness to a user who is investigating relationship breakdown may not be the correct approach and should be tested and strongly considered. Similarly, there are sensitivities around presenting information about leaving a partner when someone is only researching options or seeking support. We need to spend more time exploring how we can understand these needs and translate them into our interface.

We are also going to begin engaging with stakeholders from across the Scottish Government, public and third sectors to co-design and fact check before we commit to building an alpha. You can comment below or tweet us @mygovscot.

March 23, 2016
by Scott McLear
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Adding support for victims and witnesses on logo
This is a blog post by the team.

In 2015, the Scottish Government announced a number of changes to improve the help and support available for victims and witnesses of crime in Scotland.

This includes giving victims and witnesses better access to information – and we’ve been working with the Scottish Government’s Justice Directorate and organisations from across the public and third sectors to deliver some of this information on

How we work

Collaboration is at the heart of our approach.’s partnership with the Justice Directorate promotes a citizen-led approach with a focus on early intervention.

Stuart Duncan, Head of Delivery, Criminal Justice for the Scottish Government, sums up the approach:

“We want to use digital technology wherever possible to broaden access to justice, improve quality of service and safeguard the rights of citizens and users. Developing content on that is based on user needs is central to giving people access to the right information at the right time.”

You can read more about this approach in the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy for Justice in Scotland.

What we’ve been doing

With the help of subject experts from a wide range of organisations, we’ve been finding out how victims and witnesses engage with the criminal justice system. We’ve also taken part in a training session with Victim Support Scotland, and ran co-design sessions with Scottish Women’s Aid and Abused Men In Scotland to ensure our domestic abuse and rape and sexual assault pages are meeting the needs of our users.

We’ve also worked with Police Scotland to help produce information cards for people who report a crime. The information card directs people to the victim rights and the new Victims’ Code, content that helps people access support from their first interaction with the criminal justice system.

Using feedback

Feedback is an essential part of our content lifecycle. To make sure we’re constantly improving the user experience, we regularly test the website through usability sessions and encourage feedback on every page.

As well as asking our community of subject matter experts for feedback on our victims and witnesses content, we ran usability sessions with support workers who work closely with victims and witnesses on a day-to-day basis. We asked them to review the content, navigation and how a service user would use the site. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject the support workers acted as end-users which worked well due to their close work with victims of crime – in the future we will run further sessions to test content on people who have recently been affected by crime and we will continue to monitor our on-page feedback to be aware of live feedback from anonymous users of this content.

The support workers had some interesting insights, positive comments on the tone of voice and language used, and things we now know we need to work on, such as:

  • how we order content – we found that often people searching online have already decided if they want to report a crime to the police, so we should consider prioritising content that offers different sources of support for victims
  • filling content gaps – there were some high priority topics identified such as forced marriage, historical child abuse and hate crime for us to fill
  • ways to make the content more accessible to children and young people – as well as continuing to investigate our use of Plain English (through internal peer reviewing and tools like SMOG tests and the Hemmingway App

Next steps

The landscape of the Scottish Government, public sector, private sector and third sector sites that citizens need to visit in order to get information around any one life event can be overwhelming. Our goal is to simplify the user journey by pulling together information in a meaningful and helpful way on a site which works on any device – mobile or desktop.

Now that the content has been written, fact-checked and tested, and stakeholders have been consulted, we’ve started to redirect users from legacy sites and

As well as adding more content over the coming months we’ll will continue to monitor how people are using the site, and take on feedback from users and subject matter experts. You can feed back too – leave a comment on a victims and witnesses page, comment on this blog, or tweet us @mygovscot.

March 23, 2016
by child-maternal
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Keeping Childbirth Natural and Dynamic

My dream job…  Here I am a Consultant midwife at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary tasked with implementing Keeping Childbirth Natural and Dynamic (KCND). I needed birth to be natural and dynamic and with a caesarean section rate of 27% (ouch!!) I needed to reduce this. It soon became apparent this was not about me.

The whole team would have to engage with the issues, recognise the problem and believe they could make a difference. So after recognising we had a problem and that it was both desirable and achievable to do something about it, there followed much team working and a series of multi-disciplinary events to get to know each other and agree standards of behaviour within the unit.

The team had revisited why we do the jobs we do and acknowledged that there is always room for improvement. So effectively we brought back the joy and had a renewed respect and value for the roles and input of each and every team member. And we believed! Confidence levels were high that we could make a difference if we worked together. Then came the realisation it was not about us.

The final part of the jigsaw was to recognise what women and babies needed and expected from us. Women told us it was not about the type of birth per se and much more about the experience. “I just wanted the midwife to be nice to me”. The realisation it was about the experience and caring and compassion – if we could be truly person-centred all the other outcomes would follow on. So where are we now – we recognise the value of working as a team with the woman as team leader. We have become a person-centred team who care about and show compassion towards each other and the women and babies that we care for. But what about the outcomes? Caesarean section rate 23.8%, spontaneous vaginal birth rate 66.9% and still looking to improve!

Contact: Karen King, Consultant Midwife, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary

March 22, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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New report on the swimming depth of sea trout published

The potential risk which marine renewable developments pose to animals at sea, including fish, is partly dependent on their swimming depth. For example, fish species which predominantly occupy space close to the surface will be at less risk from bottom-mounted tidal turbines than fish species that have a bentho-pelagic lifestyle.

The sea trout is an important species which commonly occurs in development areas for renewable energy development, but existing published information on its swimming depth was sparse and not in an ideal format for risk assessment. The need for information led to Marine Scotland contacting Jóhannes Sturlaugsson to work on data he had collected in Icelandic waters in various studies on sea trout during their sea migration using data storage tags (DSTs).

The work consisted of him compiling and analysing the raw data on swimming depth into a format suitable for use in risk assessments and gives detailed descriptions of the observed main patterns in vertical distribution and the potential environmental and behavioural drivers for the swimming behaviour observed.

The analysed data shows that the sea trout were close to the surface much of the time, with some time being spent at greater depths. Separate depth profile data are presented for each study year, and overall 81.49% of the time was spent at depths between 0-5m, and 16.34% at depths between 5.1 and 10m.

Further Information

March 22, 2016
by Ruth Allen
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Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan approved

The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan has now been finalised following endorsement by Orkney Islands Council and the Highland Council and ministerial approval.

Now the Plan has been approved it will be used by the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team as a material consideration in the determination of marine licensing and section 36 consent applications within the PFOW area.

The Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council have adopted the pilot Plan as non-statutory planning guidance, acknowledging the status of the Plan as a material consideration in the determination of relevant planning applications. Orkney Islands Council has also adopted the Plan as a material consideration in the determination of works licence applications in the Orkney Harbour Area.

What will happen now?

All these documents will be available to future Marine Planning Partnerships to help inform the development of  statutory Regional Marine Plans. The working group will also monitor how the pilot Plan is used to support marine licensing, works licence and planning decisions within their respective organisations.

It is likely that development of the Orkney statutory Regional Marine Plan will proceed before the North Coast and will be led by Orkney Islands Council. During 2016, Orkney Islands Council will engage with Marine Scotland, Elected Members and wider stakeholders to canvas views on the future delivery of statutory regional marine planning in Orkney. In the meantime, the statutory National Marine Plan and the non-statutory pilot PFOW plan can be used by regulators and wider stakeholders interested in projects or activities in Orkney and the north Caithness and Sutherland coast.

And finally….

The working group would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the Plan. This work would not have been possible without the input we have received from a wide range of knowledgeable people. We will continue to keep you informed of any developments over the coming months.

Further Information

The Plan and all the associated documents are available on the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan website

The most recently added documents added are:

  • Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan
  • Consultation Analysis and Modifications Report
  • Lessons Learned
  • Regional Locational Guidance
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment Post-Adoption
  • Statement
  • Habitats Regulations Appraisal Record
  • Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment
  • Equality Impact Assessment
  •  Summary document