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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from Holyrood Live!

    Nicola Sturgeon

    That's all from Holyrood Live on Thursday 12 September 2019.

    Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs during FMQs she "deeply regrets" that Edinburgh's new children's hospital will not open for at least another year.

    The first minister was speaking at Holyrood as opposition parties called for "heads to roll" over the delay.

    The hospital was supposed to open in 2017 - but will now not be ready until next autumn at the earliest.

    Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative interim leader, said the project was a "shambles" and accused the government of "burying its head in the sand".

    Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for a public inquiry into what has gone wrong with the construction project, which has been hit by a series of delays and cost increases over the years.

  2. Background: More than 250 Police Scotland cars a decade old

    Police car

    Police Scotland has more than 250 cars over a decade old, figures have revealed.

    A total of 870 cars, about a quarter of the fleet, have driven 100,000 miles or more, with 126 covering between 150,000 and 200,000 miles.

    The average vehicle was four to five years old with up to 50,000 miles on the clock.

    The Scottish government insisted the police resource budget was being protected in real terms.

    Read more.

  3. Background: Fire service facing £389m vehicle and property repairs bill

    Fire service workers

    Scotland's fire service may have to close stations and cut vehicles in order to meet a massive repairs bill, a spending watchdog warned last year.

    Audit Scotland said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service faced a £389m backlog in vehicle and property costs.

    A report said annual investment of £80.4m was needed to bring assets up to "satisfactory" standards.

    The Scottish government said the report recognised "real progress" since the formation of a single national force.

    Read more.

  4. Background: Scottish police complaints system 'should be speeded up'

    Phil Gormley
    Image caption: Phil Gormley resigned as chief constable after complaints were made against him

    The former Lord Advocate, Dame Elish Angiolini, has called for changes in the way complaints against senior police officers are handled.

    It follows criticism of the process during an investigation into allegations against the former chief constable, Phil Gormley.

    Dame Elish said complaints against senior officers in Scotland should be dealt with more speedily.

    She has also called for wider use of body cameras by on-duty officers.

    Read more.

  5. Background: Police Scotland to change how they handle calls

    Lamara Bell and John Yuill
    Image caption: John Yuill and Lamara Bell were found in the car three days after the crash was first reported

    Police Scotland is to change the way it handles calls to 101 and 999 services.

    It follows a report from HM Inspector of Constabulary which recommended improvements to the way risk and vulnerability of callers was assessed.

    Independent watchdogs have also highlighted failures in a number of cases in which vulnerable people have been found dead despite calls for help.

    Police chiefs said the new approach would improve the force's ability to despatch officers to urgent incidents.

    Read more.

  6. Do not let Police Scotland and SPA mark their own homework - Lib Dem MSP

    Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur

    Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur reminds the chamber his party consistently opposed the centralisation that lies at the heart of the 2012 Act.

    Warnings were repeatedly given about accountability and transparency by his party he adds.

    The Lib Dem MSP reminds the chamber about serious concerns raised about call handling, not dealt with before the tragic deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill.

    They were found dead in a car three days after the crash was first reported.

    He goes on to say the public would want the parliament to carry out its role and not let Police Scotland and the SPA mark their own homework.

  7. Background: Police Scotland numbers at highest level since 2017


    The number of police officers in Scotland has risen to its highest level since the end of 2017.

    Figures published by the Scottish government show there were 17,251 officers in the national force at the end of March.

    This represents an increase of 77 on the previous quarter.

    The numbers reflect the force's decision to accelerate recruitment to deal with any uncertainty caused by the Brexit process.

    Read more.

  8. Green MSP says police are frontline defence for human rights

    Green MSP John Finnie

    Green MSP John Finnie says the police service is the frontline defence of human rights.

    He expresses concern about the potential of collateral damage while new technology is rolled out, such as facial recognition.

    Demands on police change with legislation, Mr Finnie states, pointing to the new domestic abuse law which he describes as quite resource intensive.

    That might mean officers are off the street but this is still a very important function, he explains.

  9. Labour MSP warns of 648 less firefighters since merger

    Labour MSP James Kelly
    Image caption: Labour MSP James Kelly

    Labour MSP James Kelly stresses the importance of post-legislative scrutiny over Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

    Mr Kelly starts with Police Scotland and issues around the SPA and relating to the role of ministers in terms of governance.

    The Labour MSP is concerned there is a deficit in Police Scotland funding of £35.7m that could lead to a shortfall of 100 officers.

    He warns the service and the safety of the public may be crucially undermined.

    Turning to the fire service, Mr Kelly says the FBU is very supportive about the move to a single service.

    He points out there are 648 less firefighters diminishing the frontline service.

  10. Tory MSP focuses on funding for police and fire services

    Tory MSP Liam Kerr

    Tory MSP Liam Kerr highlights that the committee broadly agreed that governance within Police Scotland did not need to change despite issues with chief constables since it was established.

    This was put down to individual personalities rather than a governance problem, he states.

    He suggests there are insufficient numbers of officers, highlighting suggestions that police in Aberdeen are struggling to tackle drug dealing because of this.

    At least £70m extra is required to stop a cut to staff numbers he states.

    He also expresses concern about capital funding not being met more broadly, explaining this is why the vehicle fleet is ageing.

    Mr Kerr also highlights concerns about reduced numbers of firefighters.

  11. Background: Recruitment drive for 300 firefighters gets under way

    Fire service

    A recruitment drive to hire 300 firefighters across Scotland has been launched.

    The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said its latest campaign will actively encourage people from a wide range of backgrounds to apply.

    Just 5% of Scotland's 3,000 firefighters are women and less than 1% belong to an ethnic minority.

    The recruitment push comes as up to half of the SFRS workforce is eligible for retirement in the next decade.

    Read more.

  12. Minister pays tribute to bravery of Scotland's firefighters

    Mr Yousaf
    Image caption: Mr Yousaf

    Mr Yousaf pivots to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the largest in the UK.

    He says last year's Glasgow School of Art fire and the recent huge fire in Moray reminds us of the bravery of our firefighters.

    Protecting frontline services is the government priority, he tells the chamber he adds.

  13. Background: What else did the committee conclude?


    The committee concluded that although reform had led to greater consistency of service across Scotland, as well as allowing for more equal access to specialist capabilities and support, a number of issues, particularly within Police Scotland, should be further addressed.

    The committee's report on policing indicated that poor financial management, unclear lines of responsibility and a failure to focus on the views of officers and staff in the early stages of reform lie at the root of many of the problems faced by Police Scotland.

    Among the issues highlighted were forecast savings not being realised, IT problems hampering police effectiveness and a string of well-publicised personnel problems resulting in senior management "instability and concerns over a lack of clear leadership" in the initial years of the reform process.

    A need for an exemption for police and fire services from the payment of VAT was also highlighted in the committee's considerations.

  14. Policing has improved since reform - justice secretary

    Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf

    Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf says the Act was the biggest change to the public sector since devolution.

    He welcomes the Justice Committee's reports, saying it both points to positive aspects of the mergers as well as highlighting challenges which need to be addressed.

    Policing services in Scotland have been protected and improved by the change, he states.

    The justice secretary also points out that police numbers are at the highest point they have been.

    He commits to engaging closely with the SPA and chief constable of Police Scotland to ensure the service continues to deliver, as well as continuing to sufficient fund it.

  15. Fire service is on track to meet its savings targets and perhaps exceed them

    Ms Mitchell

    Ms Mitchell now moves on to talk about the report into the fire and rescue service.

    The committee convener says Audit Scotland said the merger of the eight fire and rescue services had been handled effectively.

    Currently the fire service is on track to meet its savings targets and perhaps exceed them, says Ms Mitchell, with frontline services being maintained.

    Less encouraging was the retained duty service, described as "not fit for purpose" by Audit Scotland she says.

    Ms Mitchell says the goal of the 2012 Act was to see local authority engagement with the fire service improve.