Ambulance crisis caused by more than pandemic, senior surgeon warns

Professor Michael Griffin said less than half of the Scottish health service’s problems are due to Covid.

Ambulance: Crisis 'caused by more than pandemic'. Scottish Ambulance Service via SAS
Ambulance: Crisis 'caused by more than pandemic'.

A majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid, a top surgeon has said.

Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it is causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service – including under pressure paramedics.

It comes after the Scottish Government officially requested help from the army to support the ambulance service amid deteriorating response times.

ADVERT

“It’s not just due to Covid,” Prof Griffin said, adding that the pandemic is responsible for “probably 30-40% of the issues that we’re seeing”.

He said: “With the reduction in elective surgery in many of the health boards across Scotland, it’s not just Covid.

“It has a significant contribution, but there are other multiple factors involved and it’s quite a complex situation.

“We have staff absences from illness, recruitment and isolation, such that we’re not able to staff certain areas.

ADVERT

“There’s a real problem with getting patients out of hospitals at the moment and into social care, because there is a care home workforce crisis which is causing issues and bed blocking.”

Addressing the specific problems facing paramedics and waits for ambulances, Prof Griffin continued: “If the hospital beds are all full, it’s extremely difficult for the ambulance drivers to get their patients into hospital, on to trolleys, into A&E and into beds if they need admission.

“It is a bit of a vicious circle.”

Warning the “huge backlogs” in the NHS will take years to address, he welcomed the Scottish Government’s recovery plan and proposals for diagnostic hubs as “really good steps forward”.

But he added: “They’re not going to be any good to us in the short-term unless we can staff them and at the moment we are very much short of nursing staff to be able to staff them.

“It’s all very well having surgeons and having anaesthetists, but if we don’t have the extended surgical team and the crucial nursing staff and other healthcare workers, we can’t actually do our jobs.”

The comments appear to contradict Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the crisis in the ambulance service is “largely caused by the Covid pressure” and it is “the latest in a number of significant challenges posed to us as a result of this pandemic”.

ADVERT

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Sturgeon apologised to people who had endured long waits for ambulances, including the family of 65-year-old Gerard Brown, from Glasgow, who died while waiting 40 hours for treatment.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urged Sturgeon: “Please do not use the pandemic as cover for your government’s failure,” as he described reports of people dying or being left in agony while waiting for ambulances as an “avoidable human tragedy”.

The First Minister replied: “I accept there were pressures on the ambulance service, as there were pressures on the entirety of our health service before this pandemic.

“But I do think anybody who suggests that the pandemic is not a significant contributory factor to what our health service is dealing with right now is stretching credibility.

“The pandemic has created the most challenging conditions for our National Health Service probably since the National Health Service was created and that is being felt acutely in Scotland.”

Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, told Good Morning Scotland: “We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented period of significant and sustained demand on our services.

“That’s a result of increasing Covid-19 cases and also increasing non-Covid demand through illnesses and injuries.

“We’ve seen increased turnaround times at hospitals and staff absences due to isolating and these factors are all causing these unacceptable delays for patients.”

Asked what the winter will hold for the ambulance teams, she said: “It’s going to be extremely challenging, there’s no doubt about it.

“That’s why we’re looking at a whole range of measures to see what else we can possibly do ahead of winter to put in place capacity, not just in the ambulance service but across the whole of the health and care system.”


Rail workers will go on strike during COP26 conference in Glasgow

ScotRail staff will strike from Monday November 1 until Friday November 12.

theasis via IStock

Rail workers will go on strike – shutting down train services across Scotland during the COP26 global climate conference, the RMT union has confirmed.

Announcing the plans on Thursday, the union said staff on the frontline of providing green transport alternatives would close rail services over the pay dispute.

Caledonian Sleeper staff will also go on strike.

The move follows members voting overwhelmingly for industrial action, with 84% balloting to strike.

ADVERT

The union said more than two thousand members, across all grades, were involved.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Both Scotrail and the Caledonian Sleeper have had adequate time to come up with a fair pay settlement for Scotland’s rail workers in advance of COP26. Instead they have kicked the can down the road and left us with no option but to put this action on today.

“We know that these strikes will close rail services in Scotland but the blame for that lies with Abellio, SERCO and the political leadership at Holyrood.

“It’s time for all parties to take their rail workers seriously, get back round the table and give these staff at the front line of our green transport services the justice, respect and reward they deserve.”

ADVERT

This week, Scotrail offered staff a pay rise in a bid to stop strikes during COP26 following RMT’s ballot.

It is understood an offer of an initial 2.5% backdated to April this year, with an additional 2.2% promised in April 2022, had been made.

Transport Scotland called the offer “significant” and hoped unions would consider and accept it.

Scotrail has been involved in talks with the four rail trade unions, RMT, Unite, ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) and TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association), for weeks.

Engineers represented by Unite are currently being balloted on a new offer and have suspended industrial action until the vote closes on October 25.

RMT Scotrail staff will strike from Monday, November 1 until Friday, November 12.

Caledonian Sleeper staff will strike from Sunday, October 31, until Tuesday, November 2, and then from Thursday, November 11, until Saturday, November 13.

ADVERT

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP, said: “The eyes of the world are set to be on Glasgow in a matter of weeks. World leaders and delegates arriving in the city to take action to tackle the climate emergency will be greeted by rail services that have ground to a halt.

“SNP Ministers must urgently redouble their efforts and work with all parties to find a solution once and for all. These strikes are now threatening to cast a shadow over COP26.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “It’s extremely disappointing that the RMT have opted to continue with this highly damaging strike action, particularly when a pay offer, negotiated over several weeks, has been made to the trade unions.

“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s Railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark.

“To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change. All of us in the railway – management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government – need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.”

From March next year, ScotRail will be nationalised after the current franchise with Abellio ends.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We welcome the constructive talks which have taken place between all parties.

“A significant offer has been made by employers since this RMT ballot opened and we understand that the RMT will now ballot its membership again on the substance of this offer.

“We hope that RMT members and the other unions will agree and accept this offer, putting to an end existing and proposed industrial disputes and action.

“Rail workers have played their part in keeping the country moving through the pandemic and we are sure that they will see the importance of the moment and the role they can play in showing the best Scotland’s Railway has to offer as we welcome world leaders from across the globe to COP26.”

Abellio and Scotrail were each contacted for comment.


Scotland’s supply chain ‘left exposed by impact of Brexit and Covid’

The ripple effects are being felt across a wide range of sectors, from farming and construction to retail. 

RistoArnaudov via IStock

Scotland’s supply chain has been left exposed by the impact of Brexit and Covid-19.

And the ripple effects are being felt across a wide range of sectors, from farming and construction to retail. 

The situation has become so grave that a Holyrood inquiry has been launched to find out what can be done to ease the pressure.  

MSPs say they want to hear from people in different industries, in the hope of building a “more robust and resilient supply chain”.

ADVERT

We’ve been speaking to some of those feeling the strain.

The full report will be shown on Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday.

THE FARMER 

STV News
The farmer: Robin Traquair is a pig farmer on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

Robin Traquair is a pig farmer on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

Every week, Mr Traquair usually sends 150 to 200 pigs away from the farm. But recently, there have been some weeks where he’s struggled to get any livestock off to the slaughterhouse due to a shortage of specialist butchers.

ADVERT

It’s estimated that a combination of rising feed costs, dropping market prices and penalties for selling pigs “out of spec” have combined to cost Scottish pig producers £5m. 

He told STV News: “We’ve relied quite heavily on butchers from Eastern Europe, and it’s an ageing workforce as well.

“With the circumstances of Covid, and people going back home, there are less butchers in the slaughterhouses.

“It’s a very skilled job. You can’t just bring somebody in and train them overnight.

“They were offering to pay more, but there’s no butchers to hire.

“The Government was talking about a three-month visa. We’re actually pushing for a 12-month visa, minimum.”

THE FRUIT AND VEG SUPPLIER 

STV News
The fruit and veg supplier: Sarah Gulland runs Roots, Fruits & Flowers in Glasgow.

Sarah Gulland runs Roots, Fruits & Flowers in Glasgow.

ADVERT

As well as running the shop, Ms Gulland sells produce to restaurants and offers home deliveries.

A shortage of lorry drivers, and extra paperwork for produce coming into the UK from further afield, is having a knock-on effect on deliveries and quality.

She said: “If the delivery is late by a day or two, then you’ve got a day or two left to sell the produce because it doesn’t have that long a shelf life.

“The waste has dramatically increased – it’s upsetting to see all that fresh produce go to waste. 

“Our suppliers at the market, if they can’t get the produce in to sell, sometimes by the time it gets to market it’s no good to sell, so who takes the hit on that?”

THE RESTAURATEUR 

STV News
The restaurateur: Dean Gassabi runs Maison Bleue in Edinburgh.

Dean Gassabi runs Maison Bleue in Edinburgh.

He had two established restaurants, but after lockdown he had no choice but to close one of the venues due to extreme staffing shortages.

Before Covid hit, 80% of his workforce was made up of EU nationals. He’s now finding it difficult to recruit staff locally.

He said: “The staff that were on furlough didn’t come back.

“We couldn’t sustain paying all the overheads [on the other venue] so we had to dispose of it unfortunately – it broke our heart.

“All our staff [from the other venue] came here and we still don’t have enough for this one.

“The biggest problem we have is finding kitchen porters. We’re hoping it’ll get better but I can’t see it getting better for a few months yet.

“For us to survive all of this, we’re going to need some help through the transition.”

THE HAULAGE FIRM

The haulage firm: Staff hard at work at Bullet Express in Glasgow.

John McKail is the managing director of Bullet Express in Glasgow.

The firm runs a vast logistical operation, delivering goods on behalf of more than 500 companies.

Its full complement of drivers is 75, but it’s been struggling to fill vacancies, backfilling with in-demand agency workers.

Mr McKail believes the UK Government’s temporary visa scheme, to recruit 5000 drivers over the next three months, “barely scratches the surface”.

There’s an estimated shortage of 90,000 HGV drivers in the UK. 

He said: “It’s tough – every day is a challenge. We’ve a lot of demand in our business.

“We have increased drivers’ pay, double-digit percentage, we’ve increased the benefits for drivers to come and join us, we’ve put retention bonuses in, there are many measures we’re taking to try and retain our drivers.”

THE TOY RETAILER

STV News
The toy retailer: Donald Nairn is the owner of Toys Galore in Edinburgh.

Donald Nairn is the owner of Toys Galore in Edinburgh.

He is preparing for a busy period in the lead-up to Christmas. But with delays in the global supply chain, he’s having to think even further ahead to stay prepared.

He said: “Shortages at Christmas time happen all the time anyway, it’s just that this year will be worse.

“Some products we have no problems whatsoever, it’s been as it’s always has been. However, other projects – especially those coming from the Far East – we’ve noticed that there have been delays and often shortages, as things get held up in ports or there’s problems getting containers. 

“In addition to that there have been substantial price increases on products that are quite bulky and therefore more expensive to ship.”


US President Joe Biden to attend COP26, White House confirms

Biden will be one of around 120 leaders set to attend the world leaders’ summit in Glasgow.

Phil Noble via PA Ready
Confirmed: Biden will travel to Glasgow.

US President Joe Biden will travel to Glasgow for crucial COP26 climate talks, the White House has confirmed.

Biden will be one of around 120 leaders set to attend the world leaders’ summit at the start of the two-week conference, which aims to drive action to curb global warming and avoid its most dangerous impacts.

He will come to the UK for two days after attending the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome, which will also be attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The US charge d’affaires, Philip Reeker, said in a tweet: “It’s official – President Biden will travel to Scotland for Cop26.

ADVERT

“The gathering in Glasgow will be a pivotal moment on the road towards a more secure, prosperous, and sustainable future for our planet.”

Ahead of the talks, COP26 president Alok Sharma has urged world leaders to honour the Paris Agreement in 2015, which committed countries to try to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C – beyond which the most dangerous climate impacts will be felt.

But current action and pledges leave the world well off track to meeting the goal and avoiding the most dangerous heat waves, floods, damage to natural systems, rising sea levels and spread of diseases that higher temperatures will bring.

The UN climate talks in less than three weeks must secure agreement to accelerate climate action this decade to keep the 1.5C goal alive, Mr Sharma has warned.

ADVERT

Countries are expected to bring forward more ambitious plans before COP26, under a five-year cycle, to get the world on track to meet the Paris goals and the summit is being seen as the most significant since the talks in the French capital.

All G7 nations, including the UK and US, have put forward new, more ambitious plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement – for cutting emissions ahead of the talks.

But other major economies in the G20 group – including China, the world’s largest polluter – have yet to submit new versions of their plans, with time running out to honour their promise to do so before COP26 – making the G20 summit in Rome a potentially critical moment for climate action.


Young woman ‘can’t remember knocking down and killing cyclist’

Jordan McDowall, 21, has been accused of driving onto an opposing carriageway and colliding with Kevin Gilchrist, 51.

georgeclerk via IStock
Court: Jordan McDowall, 21, has been accused of knocking down and killing cyclist Kevin Gilchrist.

A young woman sobbed as she told a court she could not remember killing a cyclist after reportedly running him over.

Jordan McDowall, 21, is charged with causing the death of Kevin Gilchrist, 51, on the A8, Greenock Road, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, on July 28, 2018.

Prosecutors state McDowall drove her white Ford Fiesta dangerously and failed to pay proper attention to the road in front of her.

It is claimed she crossed onto the opposing carriageway and collided with Mr Gilchrist, who was riding his bicycle.

ADVERT

The charge states McDowall then collided with trees and shrubbery on the verge of the road which caused damage to her car.

Mr Gilchrist is stated to have been so severely injured by the collision that he died.

McDowall, of Erskine, Renfrewshire, denies the single charge at the High Court in Glasgow of causing Mr Gilchrist’s death by dangerous driving.

McDowall in evidence told jurors that she was 18-years-old at the time of the incident and had been driving for seven weeks.

ADVERT

She claimed that she was a “confident” driver and was wearing sliders on her feet on the journey from Bishopton, Renfrewshire.

Prosecutor Paul Kearney asked if sliders were good footwear for a car journey.

McDowall replied: “I couldn’t say.”

The court heard witness Gordon Lang state that McDowall’s car was “veering” on the road.

Mr Kearney asked: “Is it not the case you were fully conscious but for whatever reason not paying attention to the road ahead?”

McDowall replied: “No.”

Mr Kearney followed up: “You didn’t brake, did you?”

ADVERT

McDowall again replied: “No.”

She stated she usually drove between 40mph up to the maximum speed limit on the road of 50mph.

McDowall said she had “no recollection” of the collision and that there was a “gap” in her memory.

She added that the last thing she remembered was turning on the Red Smiddy Roundabout.

McDowall also stated that she only came through when the air bags in her car deployed.

She disagreed with a witness’ suggestion that she was seen on her phone outside of the car immediately after the collision.

Mr Kearney said: “If the witness is right, it means you were conscious enough and alert enough to be using your phone straight after an episode of loss of consciousness and memory.”

McDowall responded: “I don’t know what happened.”

It was put to her that she was overheard asking her mum to bring her juice on the phone call.

Mr Kearney also stated McDowall repeatedly said that she was going to be in “so much trouble”.

The prosecutor asked if this was something she would say if she did something wrong.

McDowall replied: “Maybe.”

She later stated that she could not remember PC Douglas McMillan asking 30 minutes after the collision if something had happened while she was driving and her saying “no”.

Mr Kearney said: “Is it not the case you didn’t tell him what you are saying today as what you are saying today isn’t true?”

McDowall replied: “It’s not the case.”

The court was told a breath test was carried out at the scene which came back as negative.

McDowall agreed with her QC Brian McConnachie’s comment that she never suggested that she experienced a loss of consciousness.

Mr McConnachie asked McDowall, who was crying, if she knew how the incident happened, and she replied: “No.”

He followed up: “Have you given it any thought?”.

She again stated “no”.

The advocate lastly asked if she had come up with an answer, and she replied: “No.”

McDowall earlier claimed she was uninjured after the crash and that there were no problems with her heart.

Cardiologist Stuart Hutcheon earlier told jurors that before the incident McDowall was not prone to blackouts or fainting.

He agreed with a professor’s suggestion that for this to occur at the single event of the road traffic incident was “quite a coincidence”.

Jurors were also read agreed evidence in a joint minute document at the beginning of the trial.

It stated that Mr Gilchrist died as a result of the collision due to “serious injuries to the chest”.

The document added that McDowall’s car was examined and there were “no defects that contributed to the collision”.

Furthermore, McDowall’s telematics box reported “no evidence of inappropriate driving on the day or prior to the collision”.

The trial continues before judge Lord Armstrong.


Up to 800 temporary visas for butchers amid costly shortage

It comes after warnings that up to 150,000 pigs could be destroyed.

STV News
Robin Traquair, a pig farmer on the outskirts of Edinburgh, has struggled to get livestock to slaughter.

Hundreds of additional temporary visas for foreign butchers have been announced by the government as part of a package of support following calls from the industry to intervene over labour shortages.

It comes after warnings that up to 150,000 pigs could be destroyed as waste as the labour shortage in meat processing has led to a backlog of animals ready for slaughter.

It is estimated that a combination of rising feed costs, dropping market prices and penalties for selling pigs “out of spec” have combined to cost Scottish pig producers £5m.

Measures announced by the government on Thursday include up to 800 visas for butchers to come to the UK for up to six months.

ADVERT

Under the plans, there will also be funding for additional meat storage, moves to introduce processing of animals on Saturdays and the potential for longer working hours.

National Farming Union vice president Tom Bradshaw said the visa announcement was a “step in the right direction”.

The government said the pig industry has faced challenges in recent months because of the pandemic and the temporary suspension of approval to export to China for some UK pork establishments.

These issues have led to a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter, the government said.

ADVERT

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “A unique range of pressures on the pig sector over recent months such as the impacts of the pandemic and its effect on export markets have led to the temporary package of measures we are announcing today.

“This is the result of close working with industry to understand how we can support them through this challenging time.”

Mr Bradshaw told Times Radio: “We really welcome the recognition of how serious the issue is. The 800 visas is a step in the right direction that will really help to get things back on track. And I guess, for us now, the critical thing is how quickly can we get those butchers over here?”

He added: “I’m pleased that however challenging its been, we know George Eustice has really been fighting the corner for the industry. He’s managed to get this over the line. And we just now need to implement it, as I say, as quickly as possible. And there can’t be any delays in getting those visas out.”

Up to 800 pork butchers will be eligible to apply for six-month visas from the existing allocation in the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme up until December 31.

The government said the move is temporary and is in addition to foreign butchers already being eligible since December 2020 to apply to come to the UK through the existing skilled worker route.

In addition, a fund will be set up for a private storage aid system in England to allow meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three to six months so they can be preserved and processed at a later date.

ADVERT

Details of the fund will be announced shortly, the government said.

A spokesperson for the National Pig Association said: “We are so very relieved that the Government has finally released some measures aimed at reducing the significant pig backlog on farms.

“We are working with the processors to understand the impact of these new measures and to determine exactly what will happen now, and how quickly, so that we can give pig farmers some hope and stem the flow of healthy pigs currently having to be culled on farms.”

The Liberal Democrats criticised the support package as a “half-baked and inadequate” visa scheme.

Two meat levy bodies for England and Scotland, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), have announced a pork levy holiday which will suspend payments of the levy pig farmers and producers are required to pay for November.

This will deliver savings of just under £1 million for the sector, the government said.

The government has said it wants the industry to improve working conditions and training in the UK, and invest in technology to meet its labour needs.


Scotland could lose two Westminster seats as boundaries are redrawn

The proposals could see Glasgow and the north of Scotland lose out on seats.

ChrisHepburn via IStock
The proposals look to resolve parity issues in the number of voters in constituencies.

Scotland could lose two MPs at Westminster under new boundary proposals.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has launched an eight-week public consultation on the proposals, which would see the number of MPs returned to Westminster go from 59 in previous votes to 57.

Glasgow and the north of Scotland would be the places which would lose seats, while widespread changes would see boundaries shift and constituencies renamed across the country, in the first change since 2005.

In comparison, England will see an increase of 10 MPs, while Wales will lose eight, if the changes are implemented.

ADVERT

Northern Ireland is set to remain on the same number of seats.

The proposals look to resolve parity issues in the number of voters in constituencies.

The commission hopes any changes will be in place by 2024, when the next general election is expected.

The parameters of the review have said the number of voters in each constituency must fall between about 70,000 and 77,000, unless the area would cover more than 12,000 square kilometres.

ADVERT

Lord Matthews, the deputy chair of the commission and the person leading the review, said: “I believe this is a promising start to delivering the requirements of the new rules that mean the number of constituencies in Scotland will reduce from 59 to 57, and that each mainland constituency must have broadly the same number of electors.

“We have set out proposals today which do that and are, we believe, a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament.

“Today is the beginning of a process, and we now want to hear the views of the public. We will reflect on responses to the consultation and make changes where appropriate and where the legislation allows us to do so. We strongly encourage voters to make their views heard.

“We welcome all comments on our proposals on our consultation site at bcs2023review.com.

“We particularly want to hear suggestions on two aspects, suggestions for alternative boundaries that comply with the legislative requirements and constituency names.”

In a briefing on the changes, Professor Ailsa Henderson, who is also a commissioner on the review, said shifts in population sizes in different parts of the country had prompted the changes.

“The result of that is that there is a wide range of electors across the existing Scottish constituencies.

ADVERT

“The constituency with the smallest electorate is Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross which has 46,000 – almost 47,000 electors – but the constituency with the largest electorate is in Linlithgow and East Falkirk with 88,000 electors, which is a range of around 41,000 electors.”

The difference in Northern Ireland is just 18,000, 36,000 in Wales and 57,000 in England.

“When there are wide variations in parity, that means that the votes in the small constituencies can be worth the equivalent of two votes in the larger constituency,” Prof Henderson said.

“So if everyone is selecting representatives to the same legislature, but their votes are worth more based purely on where they live, then, that obviously is a problem.

“The legislation is designed to ensure that electoral parity is the engine of electoral fairness in Westminster elections.”

According to Prof Henderson, 27 constituencies in Scotland were below the quota set for the number of voters and 12 were above it.

SNP Westminster deputy leader, Kirsten Oswald MP, said: “Tory plans to further reduce Scotland’s representation at Westminster, while increasing the number of MPs for England, underlines the need for Scotland to become an independent country – in full control of our own democratic decisions and with the full powers needed to build a stronger, fairer and greener future.

“The SNP will strongly oppose any attempt to weaken Scotland’s voice in the UK Parliament but the reality is Scotland will always be outvoted under the broken Westminster system – as we have seen with Tory austerity cuts, Brexit and power grabs imposed against Scotland’s will.

“Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from damaging Westminster decisions and Scotland’s best future lies as an independent country.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Reforms to parliamentary boundaries will ensure fair and equal representation for the voting public across the United Kingdom.

“Every constituency will be equally represented in the UK Parliament, with Scotland’s most rural constituencies continuing to receive special protection.”


Man injured after being hit by hammer in street attack

The 32-year-old was attacked by two men on Saturday night.

Artolympic via IStock
Police: Appealing for information after hammer attack.

A man has been left injured after being struck by a hammer in a Dundee street attack.

The 32-year-old was walking along the city’s South Road when a silver car stopped beside him near Dunholm Road at around 9.30pm on Saturday.

Two men, one armed with a hammer, got out of the car and assaulted him.

One of the men hit him on the leg with the weapon and the other made an attempt to strike him but missed.

ADVERT

The pair then got back into the car and drove off, leaving the man with minor injuries.

Police are now appealing for information as they look to trace the men responsible.

Both of the suspects are described as being white, aged between 30 and 40 with slim builds and local accents.

The first man, who was in possession of the hammer, had a shaved head and was wearing a tracksuit.

ADVERT

The second is described as having long blonde curly hair and was wearing a dark hoodie and knee length shorts.

Constable Kerry Strachan of Lochee police office said: “Enquiries are ongoing into this incident and to establish who the men involved are.

“We are keen to talk to anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident who might have seen anything.”

More on:

Police ‘will deal quickly’ with protesters who block roads at COP26

Senior officers said they will deal 'swiftly and robustly' with protesters who cause violence or damage in Glasgow.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
Firearms officers, dog handlers, mounted branch, search teams and the marine unit will all be used.

Police Scotland have said they will deal “more quickly” with protesters who disrupt main traffic routes during the Cop26 climate conference.

Senior officers have stressed that the tone of policing will be “friendly” but said they will deal “swiftly and robustly” with protesters who cause violence or damage.

Over the past five weeks, campaigners from Insulate Britain have blocked roads in England on 14 days, with activists often gluing their hands to the carriageway to increase the length of time it takes for police to remove them.

The group has suspended its “campaign of civil resistance” but will continue from October 25.

ADVERT

Deputy chief constable Will Kerr said: “People at protests sometimes break the law in a number of ways that aren’t linked to violence or disorder, such as blocking roads.

“Some disruption is inevitable during the event. If someone is causing significant disruption by wilfully obstructing a main traffic route then officers may move through the various stages of our graduated response more quickly than they would during instances which are causing minimum disruption.”

He said activists have a responsibility to protest “within the law” and warned “the small minority of people who may be intent on violent disorder or causing damage that we will deal with them swiftly and robustly”.

About 10,000 officers will be deployed each day during the gathering of global leaders, with Scotland’s forces being bolstered by police from other parts of the UK.

ADVERT

Firearms officers, dog handlers, mounted branch, search teams and the marine unit will all be used in what will be the largest police operation ever undertaken in Scotland.

Police Scotland said officers from other parts of the UK will “receive detailed briefings on the style and tone of policing ahead of being deployed”.

Mr Kerr added: “Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation and has a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter-protest, balanced against the rights of the wider community.

“We will provide a proportionate policing response to any protests and have been engaging with known protest groups for some time to ensure their rights to peaceful assembly and protest are met.”

He said contingencies are in place to deal with additional pressures on services during COP26 and said he could “reassure the public that if they need an emergency response from us they will get it”.


Glenrothes mosque attack: Suspect ‘had racist images on computer’

Sam Imrie has been charged with posting statements suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre.

Andrew Milligan via PA Ready
Sam Imrie has been charged over ‘mosque attack plot’.

A computer seized from a man on trial for terrorism offences contained thousands of racist images, a court has heard.

The Apple Mac computer contained thousands of images that were “anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-everything”, a police expert told the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday.

One such image was a photoshopped picture of the pop star Taylor Swift, manipulated to show swastikas in the lenses of her sunglasses, the “SS” Nazi military symbol on her shirt, with the words “1488 world tour”, numbers which are associated with neo-Nazism.

The computer also contained 29 child sexual exploitations images.

ADVERT

Two copies of the book Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, three copies of The Great Replacement by the Christchurch mass killer, Brenton Tarrant, a manifesto by convicted terrorist Anders Breivik and two documents related to making knives were also found, the court heard.

Giving evidence, Robert Steer, 51, a cybercrime leader in digital forensics for the police, told the court he could not recall seeing that amount of racist images on one computer in his time in the job.

The court heard that two accounts for the photo-sharing app SnapChat were found on the computer, with the usernames “n*****killer148” and “racewarplz”, which Steer told the court could be translated as “race war please”.

Of the child sexual exploitation images, one was classed as category B under the UK’s child abuse image database (CAID), and a further 28 were classed as category C.

ADVERT

Category B relates to “images involving non-penetrative sexual activity with a child”, while category C relates to “other indecent images” that could include children “posing in their underwear with a sexual element to it”, Mr Steer told the court.

There were no category A images, the court heard, which relates to penetrative sex.

Some of the images, which were created between June 19 and July 3, 2019, appeared to have been edited, which Mr Steer called “unusual”.

The images had text added to them, which said “Rape the c***, rape it now” and “I won’t tell anyone, anon. Please let me SUCC”.

An image described as a pre-pubescent female in black clothing had the text “rape it now” imposed on it.

Mr Steer said the words, text and font used were similar to that on some of the racist images found, but that he could not say for certain that this meant they had been edited by the computer owner.

Sam Imrie has been charged with posting statements on social media platform Telegram suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes, Fife.

ADVERT

The 24-year-old has also been accused of planning to stream live footage of “an incident”, and that that he took, or permitted to be taken or made, indecent photographs of children.

On Thursday, the High Court in Edinburgh heard a recording of an interview carried out with the accused by police on July 8, 2019.

The accused told police that he was a “white nationalist”. When asked what that meant, he replied: “It means I care about my race.”

Imrie denied that he thought white people are superior to non-whites, saying he believed the Chinese were superior.

He made no response when put to him that that view “flies in the face of white nationalism”.

The court previously heard how the accused made a series of derogatory remarks about minority groups on the messaging app Telegram.

Imrie blamed his actions on alcohol.

On posts made online, when he said he hated “jews, muslims and n*****s”, he said: “I would never say that sober.”

Asked if he thought his drinking legitimised it, he replied: “I didn’t say that.”

Asked about his visit to the Fife Islamic Centre in July 2019, which he had threatened to burn down on the Telegram app, Imrie said: “It was a joke.”

Imrie was also asked about posts in which he glorified Brenton Tarrant, the man behind the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, which claimed 51 lives, and Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in a terror attack in Norway in 2011.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Imrie told police. He denied he saw the men as heroes.

Put to him that he had agreed with their actions in posts made online, he said he had done so “as a joke”.

Detective constable Melanie Hamblett who led the police interview with the accused, told the court Imrie had undergone a vulnerability assessment as part of standard procedure, to examine his suitability to be interviewed.

The court heard Imrie was a self-harmer, was shown photos of cuts to his arms, and that the last such incident had happened a few months before his interview.

Imrie attempted suicide in 2018, and had been treated in hospital after consuming four litres of vodka, the court heard. He had not attempted suicide again since then.

The court also heard Imrie had previously been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a psychiatrist.

Defence solicitor advocate Jim Keegan QC put it to DC Hamblett that the accused had cooperated throughout the police interview.

“When you went and checked there was nothing that contradicted significantly what he told you?” he asked.

“Not significantly, no,” DC Hamblett replied.

“He also accepted he posted things about bombing people, but he discounted any intent,” Mr Keegan said.

Ms Hamblett replied: “That would be fair to say.”

Among other charges, Imrie is accused of being in possession of neo-Nazi, antisemitic and anti-Muslim material, extreme pornography, including indecent images of children, and an image involving a human corpse.

He is also charged with driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in July 2019.

He denies all of the nine charges against him, three of which come under the Terrorism Act.

The trial, before Lord Mulholland, continues.


You're up to date

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