Large drop in housebreakings and violent crime in north Edinburgh

New statistics released by Police Scotland as justice minister and chief constable visit Leith.

Police: Recorded crime in north Edinburgh has dropped by almost a quarter. <strong>© STV</strong>
Police: Recorded crime in north Edinburgh has dropped by almost a quarter. © STV

Recorded crime in north Edinburgh has dropped by almost a quarter, with about 1,700 fewer crimes reported in the last nine months.

New statistics from Police Scotland reveal a large drop in domestic housebreakings and violent crime in the area, falling 19% and 26% respectively year-on-year.

The figures for April to December 2015 also show car crime has dropped by 34% in the north of the city, the number of recorded cases of possession of an offensive weapon has almost halved at 47%, crimes of carrying a knife have reduced by 28% – but offences relating to drugs possession went up by a tenth.

Police Scotland released the figures on Wednesday as justice secretary Michael Matheson and chief constable Phil Gormley visited officers on patrol in Cables Wynd, Leith, which has recently been a problem area for disorder and antisocial behaviour.


Mr Matheson and Mr Gormley also witnessed a street surgery, where officers asked the public for feedback on a recent police day of action.

The pair also met Anne Munro, the manager of Pilmeny Development Project, which works to support residents and groups in North Edinburgh to identify and resolve their concerns with other agencies.

Mr Matheson said: “Our official recorded crime statistics mirror the downward trend that police in the north of Edinburgh have highlighted today. 

“Recorded crime across Scotland is at a 41-year low, the lowest in a generation, violent crime is at the lowest levels since 1974, crimes of handling an offensive weapon, including knives, are at a 30-year low and dishonesty crimes, including housebreaking, shoplifting and other thefts, fell by 8% last year alone.”


Mr Gormley said: “Community is the key word here – community policing, engagement, empowerment and responsibility. 

“Here we see a fantastic example of local people taking pride in where they live and coming together with partners to make a difference. 

“The success of this has been supported by community policing teams in Leith and across north Edinburgh.”

Calls for Covid restrictions to be lifted on Christmas Day

A Bishop has called for restrictions to be lifted on Christmas Day.

Christmad: Bishop calls for restrictions to be lifted.

The Bishop of Paisley has called for an easing of restrictions on Christmas Day amid warnings of a “digital Christmas”.

Earlier this week, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said large family gatherings were unlikely to be held on the holiday due to the prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland.

John Keenan, who also serves as the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on Christmas gatherings run “the risk of destroying all hope”.

While he conceded that Prof Leitch was trying to manage expectations, Mr Keenan wrote in the Sunday Times: “No one wants a digital Christmas.


“Squashing false expectations is one thing, but no one wants to dampen people’s hopes.”

The bishop asked if there could be a 24-hour “circuit-breaker” put in place on December 25, comparing it with the ceasefire on the Western Front during the First World War.

He said: “Perhaps we should consider a Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’. A 24-hour lifting of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations, a break in the war on Covid, just like the pause in the First World War on the Western Front in 1914, when the British and German troops laid down their guns and met in no man’s land to celebrate Christmas.”

He added: “Couldn’t we allow for one day of normality in the midst of our relentless war against the virus?


“Think of the hope and happiness that would give. A moment of joy in the midst of so much despair.

The bishop also said that “great care” would have to be taken to protect the vulnerable and the elderly, but raised the risk of “emptiness, loneliness and hopelessness at what should be the happiest time of year”.

He continued: “The effects of a depressed and isolated Christmas could be devastating for many, leaving an emotional and social legacy that no vaccine could cure.

“Flattening the curve of infection rates has been a laudable goal of government policy this year. Rather than flatten the curve of hope, let’s lift our spirits with the prospect of a merry Christmas and happy new year.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Decisions on whether to introduce additional protective measures will continue to be guided by the latest available scientific and clinical evidence, and informed by a balanced ‘four harms’ assessment.

“We understand that people will naturally be anxious about whether they will be able to visit relatives over the festive period.

“The new levels approach we announced this week, if approved by the Scottish Parliament, will enable us to adapt our response to coronavirus more effectively.


“The more we do now to suppress transmission of the virus, the more likely we will have fewer restrictions in place at Christmas.

“However, given the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic it is simply not possible to predict at this stage what restrictions may or may not be required over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.”

Coronavirus: One more dead as cases soar by 1303 overnight

More than 1000 people are currently receiving treatment in hospital for Covid-19.

Vicki Smith via Getty Images
Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

One more person has died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 56,752 – a jump of 1303 in the past 24 hours

The official death toll in Scotland now stands at 2700, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is more than 4300.

Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 437 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 341 are in Lanarkshire, 155 are in Lothian, and 132 are in Ayrshire and Arran.


The remaining cases are spread across seven other health board areas.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1016 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 31 overnight. Out of those, 86 patients are in intensive care.

The figures come as a senior figure in the Catholic Church has called for a 24-hour “circuit-break” on Christmas Day, which would see restrictions lifted and people able to visit family.

John Keenan, the Bishop of Paisley and vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on December 25 run “the risk of destroying all hope”.


The Scottish Government has said it is not possible to predict what level the virus will be at by Christmas, adding the more compliance there is with the guidance now, the more likely the prevalence will reduce and restrictions will be lifted.

All fright on the night: Celebrating Halloween under Covid rules

Scots have been urged to find alternative ways to have spooky fun while avoiding the scare of spreading coronavirus this year.

Teresa Colucci via Getty Images
Halloween: Alternative ways to celebrate October 31.

With coronavirus restrictions already in place and stronger measures expected to follow soon, Halloween may look a little different this year.

The Scottish government told Scots not to expect their usual October 31 fun and to avoid guising to prevent risk of spreading Covid-19.

Children dressing up as spooky characters and going to door-to-door looking for treats has been an annual tradition for generations.

However, the deputy first minister says the move is necessary to ensure current restrictions on gatherings are adhered to.

Vladimir Vladimirov via Getty Images
The Scottish Government has strongly advised against guising this year.

John Swinney said: “I know guising is a big part of Halloween and children will be sad to miss out, but as door-to-door guising brings an additional and avoidable risk of spreading the virus, our clear advice for families is to avoid it.”

In light of the current situation, STV News looks at alternative ways families can have spooky fun while avoiding the scare of spreading the virus.

Visit a patch to pick a pumpkin

If you take the FM’s advice and avoid guising altogether, there are plenty of other ways to mark Halloween without the family being stuck indoors.

Pumpkin picking is the latest autumn trend in Scotland as younger generations continue to adopt American traditions.

STV News
Pumpkin patch at Valley View in Carluke.

The days of carving lanterns from tumshies could now be a thing of the past as pumpkins become more and more popular.

There are now patches popping up across Scotland as the trend becomes the norm.

Here is a list of patches open to the public this year:

  • Udny Pumpkins, Ellon
  • South Ardbennie, Perthshire
  • Cairnie Farm, Cupar
  • Craigies Farm, South Queensferry
  • Arnprior, Stirling
  • Balgone Estate, East Lothian
  • Kilduff farm, East Lothian
  • MND’s Theme Park Outdoor Pumpkin Festival, Bellshill
  • Valley View At Gouldings, Carluke 

Get competitive in a carving contest

Once you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin, why not challenge the family to a carving competition?

Get artistic with stencils or bravely go freehand to create the most impressive spooky designs to rival your relatives.

Make things more interesting by taking the contest online and challenge your wider family on Zoom.

Show off your work with a pumpkin trail

What better way to show off your hard work than with a neighbourhood pumpkin trail?


Families can place a pumpkin somewhere on or around their homes so children can wander through the street and count as many as possible.

The idea has become increasingly popular this year as parents are keen to make sure Halloween happens for their children.

Every pumpkin found, children can be given a sweet treat to add to their bag.

Just look at it as a 2020 spin on guising!

Give your face mask a Halloween twist

Young ones can give the term Halloween mask a whole new meaning by giving their face coverings a spooky makeover.

Bogdan Kurylo via Getty Images
Add a bit more fun to face masks with a spooky theme.

Using stickers, felt or even a parent’s sewing skills, they can create a terrifying design ready to scare the public on their next trip outdoors.

Show off your costume from your doorstep

At the height of lockdown, Scotland saw communities come together from the safety of their gardens and doorsteps.

Whether that was for the weekly Clap for Carers event or performing a dance from their front gate. 

Why can’t the same be done for Halloween? Children can show off their costume from the safety of their front garden or street for passers-by and neighbours to enjoy.

Host a virtual Halloween quiz

The idea of Zoom might give people the chills these days but why not get the whole family involved in a Halloween quiz?

Brush up on horror movie trivia and hellish history before going head-to-head to see who is the spook-tacular winner.

Put those lockdown baking skills to the test

Time in lockdown taught people a lot of skills, the most common one was learning how to bake.

STV News
Pumpkin themed gingerbread biscuits.

So, how about putting those talents to the test by baking some spooky sweet treats?

From creepy cookies to pumpkin pancakes there’s an endless list of recipes online to try out.

Discover the light with a trip to GlasGLOW

itison via Itison
GlasGLOW at the Botanic Gardens. itison

If staying in isn’t people’s style then a trip to see GlasGLOW’s Halloween light show might be the perfect choice.

The popular event is set to return to Glasgow for a third year for the Halloween season.

It is held at the Botanic Gardens and will run from the October 29 – November 15.

Visitors have been told to expect an “immersive journey transporting them to other worlds where ancient powers have been unleashed”.

For ticket details click here.

Watch a Halloween classic at the drive-in

Nothing gets people in the Halloween spirit quite like a horror film so why not enjoy a good old-fashioned scare on the silver screen?

Rebecca Nelson via Getty Images

Drive-in movie events have been cropping up across the country over the past few years.

This October many pop-up venues are offering younger viewers some spooky family favourites including Hocus Pocus but also screening some horror classics like The Shining for adults.

Here’s a list of pop-up events scheduled in Scotland this month:

Six taken to hospital after fire in block of flats

Six people have been taken to hospital following a fire in Edinburgh.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Fire: Two people rescued from blaze.

Six people have been taken to hospital following an early morning fire in Midlothian.

Two residents had to be rescued by firefighters when the blaze took hold of the top floor of a block of flats in Loanhead.

Crews attended the scene on McNeil Terrace at around 3.30am on Sunday.

Emergency services were also in attendance and six people were taken to hospital by ambulance.


Four engines and a height vehicle were mobilised by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who remain at the scene.

A SFRS spokesman confirmed the incident.

He said: : “At 3.30am on Sunday we were called to reports of a dwelling fire in McNeill Terrace, Loanhead.

“The crews assisted a number of residents as they worked to extinguish the fire on the top floor of a three story block of flats.


“Two residents were rescued from the property by fire fighters and six casualties were handed into the care of Scottish ambulance service before being taken to hospital.

“Crews remain at the scene.”

Royal Mail to seek 33,000 temporary seasonal workers

The postal service needs extra workers to keep up with increased parcel volumes over Christmas.

Royal Mail via website
Royal Mail: The postal service is seeking temporary seasonal workers.

Royal Mail has announced that around 33,000 temporary jobs will be available this year over the Christmas period – over 10,000 more than its usual seasonal average.

The postal service typically employs between 15,000 and 23,000 extra staff between October and January to help sort the additional Christmas volumes of parcels, cards and letters.

Royal Mail says that such a high number of workers is needed this year because of elevated parcel volumes due to an increase in online shopping caused by the coronavirus crisis.

More than 13,000 mail centre sorting posts are available in England, around 1400 posts in Scotland, 700 posts in Wales and 500 posts in Northern Ireland.


The seasonal workers will support more than 115,000 permanent postmen and women who sort and deliver the mail all year round.

Additional workers will also be required for Royal Mail’s new Covid-19 testing kit collection team.

Royal Mail has been recruiting festive temporary workers since the Second World War.

Sally Ashford, Royal Mail chief HR officer, said: “During these unprecedented times we believe it is critical that Royal Mail continues to deliver.


“We want to do our best to deliver Christmas for our customers and support the effort on the pandemic.

“This helps the whole country to celebrate and stay safe during these difficult times.”

Return of students after Christmas ‘could be staggered’

John Swinney said that the Scottish Government is 'learning lessons' from the return of students.

Getty Images
University: Return 'could be staggered' after Christmas.

The return of students to university after spending Christmas at home could be staggered, according to the Education Secretary.

The beginning of the academic year saw thousands of students enter halls of residence before hundreds of them were forced to isolate due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

John Swinney said that the Scottish Government is “learning lessons” from the return of students which will impact measures in place after the Christmas break.

The Education Secretary also said it was a “priority” that students are able to go home for Christmas and he was working with other UK nations to ensure that does not result in a spike in Covid-19 cases.


Addressing the return of students, he told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme: “Some of the points that we’re looking at are around staggered returns of students so that they don’t all come back in one go, that we look at arrangements for how testing can be part of the architecture of how we handle that return.

“What we expect of students when they are returning home and when they’re coming back into universities and how they will spend their time, how their learning will be undertaken – these are all issues that are being explored.”

Swinney went on to say that a system of mass testing, bolstered by a staggered return of students ensuring the system does not become overwhelmed, was being discussed as an option.

He said: “These are some of the options that are being looked at and obviously… the practicalities of that are changed and eased if the return of students is staggered over a longer period.”


Swinney added: “We’re working with institutions because they have to be partners with us in how the learning is undertaken over that period to make sure that we avoid any situation where there is too much strain either on the testing system or there is too much strain on the possibility of the circulation of the virus when students return or, for that matter, when they return to their homes in the first place.”

A new five-tiered system of restrictions was unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, which would see a shifting package of measures put on different local authority areas depending on the prevalence of the virus.

However, schools are to remain open under the new framework, which will be debated by MSPs this week.

Swinney said the decision could be made to close a singular school for public health reasons, but that there were “many steps” which could be taken before schools will be shuttered as they were in March.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged to keep duty free shopping

Finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop have written to the Treasury.

WPA Pool via Getty Images
Chancellor: Rishi Sunak has been urged not to scrap duty free shopping.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged not to scrap duty free shopping in a letter from the heads of Scotland’s finances.

In an announcement made in September, the UK Government confirmed that VAT refunds on goods bought by non-EU citizens, along with tax-free airside purchases, would be scrapped after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop have told the Treasury that retail businesses already suffering as a result of the pandemic would suffer if the rules were changed.

The letter, published on Sunday, adds to the gulf between the Treasury and the Scottish Government on finance policy.


Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described new Covid-19 measures as “unacceptable”, after she claimed that no extra funding would be made available to Scottish ministers as a result of support extended to local authorities in England.

The letter said: “We urge you to reconsider this decision in light of the significant economic challenges that businesses affected by these changes are already experiencing due to Covid-19 measures.

“Since your minister’s announcement in September, we have received representations from many stakeholders across Scotland, each of whom has expressed surprise at the lack of engagement from the UK Government, and shared extensive concerns regarding the detrimental consequences for the sectors they represent.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds in sales could be lost in Scotland and thousands of jobs are at risk as a result of these changes, including jobs in rural areas.”


The end of tax-free sales will only count for people travelling outside the EU – those travelling to the 27 European nations will be able to buy duty free goods in British ports.

The ministers went on to express “concern” that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would be in effect from January 1, after the UK exit from the EU.

The letter added: “The Scottish Government has not received any indication to this effect and, clearly, the potential implications of this are far-reaching.

“We do not believe that this is the best route for Scotland, nor indeed the UK.”

The trading landscape for businesses in Scotland will be made harder after Brexit, the letter said, when WTO tariffs are put in place on non-EU exports and imports.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “Supporting jobs is our number one goal – that’s why we’re investing billions to support business across the country through our Plan for Jobs.

“We’re also providing a significant boost to airports with our extension of duty free sales to passengers travelling to the EU for the first time in over 20 years.


“Less than 10% of non-EU visitors to the UK use the VAT refund shopping scheme and extending this to EU visitors could cost up to £1.4bn a year.

“During the consultation concerns were also raised that the benefits of tax-free shopping in airports aren’t consistently passed on to consumers.

“Overseas visitors can still buy items VAT free in store and have them sent directly to their overseas addresses.”

‘Low rumbling’ felt after earthquake in Dumfries

The 2.0-magnitude earthquake was felt in parts of the Southern Uplands.

Earthquake: Residents felt 'low rumbling'.

Residents of a borders town felt a “low rumbling” during an earthquake on Saturday.

The 2.0-magnitude earthquake was felt in parts of the Southern Uplands.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said people reported the rumbling in Dumfries at around 1pm.

Initial data from the BGS suggested the quake’s depth was six miles and its epicentre was around five miles west of the town.

Greens set target for 40% of Scotland to be forest by 2040

MSP Andy Wightman will use his speech to the party’s virtual conference to make the case for 'fundamental' land reform.

Travelpix Ltd via Getty Images
Scotland: A forest in Perthshire.

Scotland should be a “woodland nation” with two fifths of the country covered in woods within the next two decades, the Scottish Greens will demand.

Green MSP Andy Wightman will use his speech to the party’s virtual conference on Sunday to make the case for “fundamental” land reform.

The party wants more forests to be established across Scotland, with subsidies used to help achieve this along with the creation of new community-owned public forests.

Speaking ahead of his conference speech, Wightman said: “Scottish Greens will be making the case for fundamental change, with a target to reach 40% woodland cover by 2040.”


He hit out at the Scottish Government on the issue, accusing rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing of being “little more than a lobbyist for powerful private interests”.

And he stated: “Today, up to a fifth of Scotland’s land mass is currently used as a playground for the ritual slaughter of grouse and other wildlife for the privileged.

“Let’s be clear. Grouse moors have no place in a Scotland that needs communities empowered and forests and peatlands restored.”

He said the Greens wanted a programme “involving communities, local authorities and local landowners to create a woodland nation”.

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?