More than 10k would dodge jail under 'soft-touch' SNP plan

More than 10,000 criminals – including those convicted of homicide and attempted murder – would have avoided prison last year under SNP plans to cut sentences of less than 12 months.

Analysis by the Scottish Conservatives has found that there were 10,104 jail terms of a year or less handed down in 2016/17.

As part of her Programme for Government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to introduce a presumption against such punishments, instead giving criminals fines or a community sentence.

However, had that been in place for 2016/17, it would have seen two people convicted of homicide, 35 of sexual assault and 99 of attempted murder/serious assault walk free.

Ambulance response times almost double in 4 years

The average time it takes an ambulance first responder to reach the scene of an emergency has almost doubled in the space of four years, new research has shown.

In the last three months, it took first responders an average of 15 minutes 28 seconds to arrive following a 999 call.

Over the same period five years ago, the mean response time was 8 minutes 49 seconds.

The figures were obtained under Freedom of Information by the Scottish Conservatives.

They also show huge disparity across the country when it comes to average response times.

Push for free finance textbooks in schools

A scheme to provide free textbooks to schools on personal finance would boost education and help the economy further down the line, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Shadow economy secretary Dean Lockhart wants to mirror a scheme in England which will see half a million books handed to schools there by September this year.

He said the initiative could be done in collaboration with business, and for limited Scottish Government funding would have a positive impact on youngsters.

It would also go some way to reversing the SNP administration’s reputation as an anti-business government, he added.

South of the border, money-saving expert Martin Lewis – in partnership with education charities - has pledged £200,000 to help children learn about savings, insurance and debt.

9 out of 10 bike thieves get away with it

The overwhelming majority of bicycle thefts in Scotland go unsolved, new figures have shown.

Nearly 90 per cent of reports of a stolen pedal bike went without a culprit being found in the last year.

The figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives revealed there were 5394 recorded crimes for bike thefts in the 10 months to January 31, the equivalent of 17 a day.

However, just 548 of these were recorded as “detected”, according to the Police Scotland data.

The number of thefts is on course to be significantly higher than 2016/17, when 5424 incidents were reported for the entire year.

Respect Pledge for local elections

Today (3 March 2018) the Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis unveiled the Party’s Respect Pledge. The pledge will apply to all Conservative candidates standing in the local elections this year, ensuring they behave responsibly throughout the election.

GDP figures confirm Scotland's growth is half of the UK's

New growth figures have confirmed Scotland’s economy only performed half as well as the UK’s over the whole of 2017.

According to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics, growth for Scotland was 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

That means, for the whole year, the economy grew at 0.8 per cent, compared to the UK figure of 1.7 per cent.

Construction declined again by 2.6 per cent in the last three months, the eight consecutive fall, while agriculture, forestry and fishing also reduced.

Funding cut results in fewest ever attempts to quit smoking

TextThe number of smokers who tried to kick the habit last year fell to its lowest since quit-attempt records began, as the SNP government also cut funding into a scheme to help.

According to official figures there were 59,767 attempts to stop smoking last year, half the rate of five years ago.

At the same time, cash from the Scottish Government into smoking cessation and related initiatives reduced to its lowest since 2010.

The £134,000 spent in 2016/17 compares to nearly £600,000 the year before.

Kids as young as 8 referred for housebreaking

Hundreds of children, some as young as eight, have been reported for housebreaking in the last three years.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) have received 517 referrals since 2014/15 for under 18s.

Of those, 186 occurred last year, a figure that has remained much the same for the past three years.

At least one eight-year-old in both East Ayrshire and the Highlands was referred for breaking into someone’s house, as well as at least three children aged nine and seven aged 10.

Ambulances forced to attend thousands of drink-related emergencies

Ambulance crews were forced to attend more than 15,000 emergencies last year where alcohol was to blame, it has emerged.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed the number of incidents where drink was an “additional factor” increased from 2016.
In total, there have been 53,141 alcohol-related incidents in the past three years, the equivalent of nearly 50 a day.
The Freedom of Information response showed Glasgow had the highest number of instances in 2017, with a total of 3783.
That was followed by Edinburgh with 1674 and North Lanarkshire with 1279.