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IMPROVING THE ORGANISATION OF MARCHES AND PARADES

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Under the Police Bill approved by parliament yesterday, local authorities will take account of a wider range of fac...
Under the Police Bill approved by parliament yesterday, local authorities will take account of a wider range of factors - such as the views of the community - when considering notifications for public processions.

The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill - which is expected to become law from the autumn - includes a range of new measures to strengthen police effectiveness and improve community safety.

They include:

* New measures to help tackle knife crime in Scotland, including doubling the maximum penalty for carrying a knife in public or in a school from two to four years, giving the police the unconditional power to arrest someone suspected of carrying a knife in public, and increasing the minimum age for buying a non-domestic knife from 16 to 18

* Introduction of mandatory drug testing and referral, upon arrest, for anyone aged 16 or over, who is suspected of a drugs or drugs-related offence such as theft and shoplifting, to encourage them into treatment earlier and tackle their levels of drug dependence and drug-related crime

* Introduction of football banning orders to tackle football related violence or sectarianism, racism or hatred, at football grounds or other flash points associated with games

* Increased powers for the police to strengthen the monitoring of sex offenders in the community. This will include requiring convicted sex offenders to provide more information about themselves and requiring registered sex offenders to provide a DNA sample if this was not given at the time of charge or conviction. It will also give the police additional powers to enter and search a sex offender's home for the purposes of risk assessment

* Strengthened powers for prosecutors and the police, to encourage those accused of crimes to give information to them about others involved in serious organised crime, in return for reduced sentences, to help get more Mr Bigs off Scotland's streets

Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill

Justice minister Cathy Jamieson said:

'Last week I announced plans to provide 1,000 hand-held metal detectors to police forces. On Monday the Lord Advocate announced changes to prosecution guidance on knife crime to deal more effectively with those who persistently carry knives. And yesterday saw the start of Scotland's first national knives amnesty to encourage individuals to 'bin a knife, save a life'.

'Today's successful completion of this key bill marks another important step forward in that on-going war against knife crime. It will give the police much-needed new powers to deal with knife carriers and increase the maximum penalties available to the courts for dealing with those offenders.

'The Bill also contains a range of provisions to help the police in their day to day work such as new powers to help the police in monitoring sex offenders in the community to further improve protection for the public. And the introduction of football banning orders to help us take action against the tiny minority of hooligans and bigots who are determined to ruin games at home or abroad for the majority of well-behaved fans.

'Other provisions will ensure we are better able to address drug-related offending at an earlier stage, by introducing mandatory drug testing and referral for over 16s arrested for drugs or drugs-related offences. This will be used to encourage people with drug problems into treatment to deal with the root cause of their offending behaviour - and ease the impact of drug-crime on our hard-pressed communities.

'Scotland can be rightly proud of its police service. Our record number of officers, supported by record investment, are continuing to deliver a high standard of service to communities across the country. This legislation will help them deal with the challenges of policing in a modern-day Scotland and strengthen their contribution to delivering safer communities for us all to live and work in.'

Other measures contained in the Bill will:

* Provide new powers for the police to strengthen the monitoring of sex offenders in the community, following Professor Irving's review of the operation of the sex offenders' registration scheme last year. These provisions will require convicted sex offenders to provide the police with more information about themselves including details of passports, and in the longer term, bank accounts and credit cards. Registered sex offenders will also be required to provide a DNA sample to the police if this was not provided at the time of charge or conviction. It will also give the police additional powers to enter and search a sex offender's home for the purposes of risk assessment.

* Improve the organisation of marches and parades, and enable local authorities to take account of a wider range of factors - such as the views of the community - when considering notifications for public processions

* Strengthen a prosecutor's ability to encourage those accused of crimes to give information to them and the police about others involved in serious and organised crime, to help get more criminals off Scotland's streets

* Enhance other police powers such as the ability to prevent the anti-social use of fireworks and to identify suspects more effectively by giving them the authority to obtain a person's date of birth and to take fingerprints while out on the beat

* Make police complaints more transparent and accountable by setting up a Police Complaints Commissioner to investigate non-criminal complaints against the police

* Establish the new Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), which will be directly responsible for providing a range of common services to Scottish police forces on a national basis, including the development of a new national forensic science service

* Place the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (formerly the SDEA) on a statutory footing under the direction and control of its own Director General. For the first time, there will also be provision for police officers to be directly recruited to serve in SCDEA - until now it has had to depend entirely on officers being seconded from Scottish police forces

* Enable incentive payments to be made to special constables who undertake an agreed number of duties in a 12-month period

* Improve the management of inshore fisheries by giving new powers to the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency and to Regulating Order grantees to enforce these orders and prevent illegal fishing such as that for cockles in the Solway which has caused concern in recent months

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