In numbers: How coronavirus has taken its toll on Scotland

We take a look at the statistics showing Covid-19's spread throughout the country.

Coronavirus: More than 18,000 confirmed cases in Scotland. STV News
Coronavirus: More than 18,000 confirmed cases in Scotland.

On March 1, 2020, the first case of coronavirus in Scotland was confirmed.

As cases began to climb, the deaths began, with the first in Scotland confirmed in the Lothian area on March 13.

Society has been transformed by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to control the disease.

Here, we take a look at the statistics which show how the virus has spread throughout the country.

Covid-19 cases in Scotland

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Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland quickly rose as the pandemic spread in March.

In the first week of April, the rolling seven-day average of daily infections was 315.

Cases peaked in late April and then began to fall, with the daily total falling to an average of as low as nine in early July.

However, since then – as lockdown has eased and testing has ramped up – infections have begun to rise, in part due to local outbreaks in places like Aberdeen, Tayside and the west of Scotland.

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The spread of the virus has accelerated rapidly in September and October, with new daily cases up to a seven-day average of 1102 as of Sunday, October 18.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

*Cases on October 18 (a total of 316) were artificially low due to delays with test processing.

NB: From June 15, thousands of new cases were added to the official figures from UK Government-managed drive-through test centres.

Case data before that only counted results from NHS labs, therefore it is no longer included in our cumulative graph.

What is going on with coronavirus cases and tests? Read now

Covid-19 positivity rate

Since July 23, the Scottish Government has begun providing data on the so-called “positivity rate” in Scotland.

This refers to the daily percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus out of all newly-tested individuals.

Nicola Sturgeon has said it is among the first statistics she looks at each day when considering the latest data, as case numbers and testing numbers become increasingly variable.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
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The World Health Organisation’s advice is that if a country is keeping its positivity rate below 5%, broadly, it means it is keeping its Covid epidemic under control.

However, this depends greatly on the quality and quantity of testing a country is carrying out.

Covid-19 deaths in Scotland

There are two different sets of figures tallying coronavirus deaths in Scotland, which can be confusing.

Every day, the Scottish Government publishes figures on deaths produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

These only include confirmed Covid-19 cases who died within 28 days of a positive test.

Every week, National Records of Scotland (NRS) publishes the numbers of everyone who has died with Covid-19 cited on their death certificate – including both confirmed and suspected cases.

Suspected cases include those who either didn’t have a test, or who died after the 28-day period following their test.

In order to arrive at the most up-to-date total possible, STV combines the weekly figures with the most recent daily figures.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland / National Records of Scotland

Hospital and ICU admissions

Figures on the numbers of Scots in hospital and intensive care with coronavirus have recently been refined.

Now, they only count people who recently tested positive for coronavirus.

That’s because long-term hospital patients, who may have tested positive for Covid some time ago but are now being treated for different things, were being counted in the totals.

Despite this more restrictive approach, the numbers in hospitals have been steadily marching upwards in September and October.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

During the first spike of coronavirus, older figures which combined both confirmed and suspected cases show a peak in Scotland’s ICUs on April 12, with 221 admissions.

The highest number of patients in Scottish hospitals overall occurred on April 21, when 1866 people were being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

Hospital and ICU admissions for confirmed or suspected Covid-19: March 18 – July 21

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Recoveries

The Scottish Government began in April giving figures on how many people hospitalised with coronavirus have been able to go home since the pandemic began.

Since March 5, nearly 5000 confirmed Covid-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals around Scotland to continue their recovery.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

In August, the figure outstripped the number of people who have died with the virus in Scotland (confirmed and suspected).

Coronavirus testing

The Scottish Government says a policy of test, trace, isolate – dubbed “test and protect” – is crucial as lockdown restrictions ease and officials attempt to handle a second spike of Covid-19.

In March, policy in Scotland and the UK turned away from testing every suspected case, against the advice of the World Health Organisation.

How will Scotland’s coronavirus test-and-trace system work? Read now

But that changed again in late May when the government started asking anyone who developed Covid-19 symptoms – a cough, a fever or a loss of smell or taste – to immediately book a test.

The Scottish Government has been ramping up mass testing and claims the country now has total testing capacity of 40,000 per day, combining NHS labs and the UK Government-managed Lighthouse super-lab in Glasgow.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

About 900,000 Scots have now been tested for coronavirus – a figure which has doubled in around seven weeks, showing the scale at which Covid testing capability has been built up.

Excess deaths

Over April to June, total deaths in Scotland were about a third higher than the five-year average, with 83% of those fatalities linked to coronavirus.

Comparing actual deaths in a country over a week or a month to the average for that period is how what is known as excess mortality is calculated.

In each week of April, when the coronavirus death toll in Scotland reached its shocking peak, excess deaths were 646, 878, 849 and 749 respectively – or more than 3100 over that month alone.

But from late June, mortality rates fell back into rough alignment with the five-year average.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Given different countries tally up coronavirus deaths in different ways, many experts believe excess deaths are a more stable way to compare how countries have fared during the pandemic.

Scotland has had the second highest number excess deaths of the four UK nations, behind England, and the third highest toll in Europe, behind England and Spain.

Coronavirus deaths in care homes

A total of 46% of all coronavirus-linked deaths have occurred in care homes.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

They account for slightly less than deaths in hospitals (47%), while fewer than one in ten (7%) died at home, a non-institutional setting or another institutional setting.

Coronavirus in schools

Since pupils went back to full-time education in mid-August, much attention has been focused on cases in schools.

Community flare-ups of the virus and some small clusters in and around schools have seen pupils and school staff test positive for the virus, sometimes causing whole classes to self-isolate.

But broadly speaking, even with far more children and young people being tested for the virus, case numbers among pupils have stayed relatively low.

The Scottish Government has been tracking the number of pupil absences Monday to Friday due to reasons related to Covid.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

The factors that could cause Covid-related absence include self-isolation due to having the virus or symptoms or a classmate having the virus.

But they also could refer to pupils having to quarantine due to coming back from holidays to certain countries, or because their parents have pulled them out of school against public health guidance.

Health boards

Covid-19 cases by health board

The most confirmed Covid-19 cases in Scotland are in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, with more than 15,000.

Those cases have shot up by more than 5000 in the last fortnight, with other areas in the central belt like Lanarkshire, Lothian and Ayrshire also hotspots.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

The least amount of confirmed cases are on Orkney (26) and the Western Isles (62).

Note: All graphs and tables beyond this point were last updated on October 14.

National Records of Scotland now updates them on a monthly basis, and the next update is November 11.

Deaths by health board

There have been 1365 deaths of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, followed by Lothian on 743 and Lanarkshire on 609.

NHS Western Isles has recorded zero deaths so far, while there have been two on Orkney and seven in the Shetland Islands.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Death rate per 10,000 of population

In June, the National Records of Scotland began publishing new data giving the age-standardised death rates in health board areas.

They are considered more accurate than crude death rates where deaths and population size are measured against each other.

Instead, age-standardised death rates adjust for age demographics in the population, for example, if there are more older people or more younger people within the population compared to others.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Between March 1 and September 30, the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region had the highest death rate, with 23 deaths per 10,000 people.

Lanarkshire had the next highest, on 18, while Lothian, Forth Valley, Ayrshire and Arran, Tayside and Borders all had an age-standardised Covid death rates in double figures.

Covid-19 deaths by council area

West Dunbartonshire has the highest age-standardised death rate in the country, with a rate of nearly three residents per 1000, or 27 per 10,000, dying with the virus.

Other local authority areas with high death rates – typically ones with urban populations and substantial pockets of poverty – include Glasgow, Midlothian, Inverclyde and Dundee.

Ten highest death rates per 10,000

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Remote and rural areas typically had the lowest age-standardised death rates, with a rate of three deaths per 10,000 in Highland and Moray and four in Dumfries and Galloway

In Shetland, where there have been seven deaths, Orkney, with two deaths, and Western Isles, where there have been zero, no death rate has been calculated.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

In terms of sheer numbers, a total of 666 Glasgow residents have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – the highest in Scotland – with 432 in Edinburgh.

There have been been at least 100 deaths reported in 18 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Table: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Covid-19 deaths by age and gender

More than three quarters of coronavirus-linked deaths (76%) in Scotland are of people over 75.

Of that age group, 55% of deaths are women, rising to 62% in the over-85s category, which reflects the fact the elderly population has more women than men.

Overall, there is a 50/50 split between men and women in terms of the proportion of Covid-19 deaths, with slightly more women dying (2162 to 2139 men).

But among people aged 45 to 74, nearly twice as many men as women have died (65% to 35%).

Table: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

A total of 29 people aged 15 to 44 have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus in Scotland so far – 14 male and 15 female.

Rail strikes during COP26 off after deal struck with RMT union

Scottish Government and ScotRail reach settlement with union in dispute over pay and conditons.

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Strike action has been averted during COP26.

A deal has been done to avert ScotRail train staff striking during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

The one-year deal includes a 2.5% pay rise agreed between the RMT union, ScotRail and the Scottish Government.

World leaders and thousands of delegates are set to arrive in Glasgow for the United Nations climate summit, but the 13-day event has been threatened with disruption caused by rail strikes.

The deal will see strike action during the summit averted, as well as the end of long-running strike action that has affected Sunday services.

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The RMT set out its final negotiating position earlier on Wednesday ahead of a 5pm deadline.

In a letter sent to union members after Wednesday evening’s talks, RMT general secretary Michael Lynch said: “I can advise you that subsequent negotiations have been held and that your union made a counter offer to ScotRail.

“By accepting the offer all industrial action is now cancelled and I instruct you all to work normally on the days you had previously been instructed to take action on.”

The new terms accept the union’s call for a 2.5% pay rise backdated to April and a “Cop26 payment” for all staff of £300.

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A three-hour book on allowance applied to each rest day worked, applicable for 12 months from the date of the agreement, is also included.

Lynch said the union’s offer was accepted “unanimously” by delegates.

His letter added: “It was noted that it was only through the tremendous determination of you and your colleagues throughout this dispute, through the efforts of your representatives, activists and negotiators that this result was achieved.

“The AGM congratulates you and I congratulate you on achieving this magnificent industrial victory and gaining a one-year pay deal and rest day working agreement without any preconditions and which banishes the previously stated productivity strings attached.”

Earlier this week, Scotland’s transport minister Graeme Dey warned he was “not optimistic” that a resolution would be reached with the RMT before the 5pm deadline.

He was facing calls to quit if a deal could not be reached to prevent the strike during Cop26.

In response to the recent announcement, Dey said: “Following recent discussions we are pleased that all four trade unions have now agreed to accept this very good pay offer on behalf of their members.

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“We are proud to have brokered and funded a deal which gives Scotland’s rail workers a decent pay rise and improved terms and conditions, in contrast to conditions for rail workers under the UK Government.

“We are also pleased that the RMT reached out to restart discussions based on the offer that had been made to them on Sunday. Now an agreement has been confirmed the strike action will thankfully now come to an end.

“As well as getting the pay rise they deserve, railway workers can now go back to delivering rail services for people right across Scotland and as well as for those attending COP26.

Three other unions representing rail workers – Aslef, Unite and the TSSA – had already accepted a deal put on the table.

Ian McConnell, ScotRail chief operating officer, said: “We have reached a pay agreement with the RMT trade union that resolves strike action. We look forward to Scotland’s railway playing its part in delivering a successful COP26 next week.”

More on:

Three children and woman hit by car as ten ambulances sent to scene

Ten ambulances were dispatched to the scene in Carluke, South Lanarkshire.

STV News
The Scottish Ambulance Service said the incident was ongoing.

Ten ambulances have been sent to the scene of a crash in which three children and a woman were struck by a car.

Emergency services were called to Kirkton Street in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, shortly after 3pm on Wednesday.

A woman in her 20s and three children have been taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said the incident was ongoing.

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Carluke, South Lanarkshire.
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A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We received a call at 3.07pm to attend an incident on Kirkton Street, Carluke and dispatched 10 resources to the scene.

“One female in her twenties and three children have been transported to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.” 

Inspector William Broatch, from Motherwell Road Policing Unit, said: “Around 3.10pm, police were called to James Street in Carluke, at the junction with Kirkton Street, following a report of a road crash involving a car and four pedestrians – a woman and three children.

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Junction of Kirkton Street and James Street in Carluke.

“The pedestrians are all being conveyed to hospital for treatment. Emergency services remain at the scene and local diversions are in place.

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“Anyone with information on the incident can call police on 101, quoting incident 2110 of October 27.”

More to follow.


Train services cancelled and roads flooded as rain batters Scotland

An amber and yellow weather warning was issued by the Met Office for parts of the country on Wednesday.

@Gordon_Keenan via Twitter
Flooding: Scotland hit by heavy rain following amber and yellow weather warnings.

Heavy rain has flooded roads and cancelled rail services in parts of south west Scotland.

An amber weather warning was issued for Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, starting at 9pm on Wednesday and continuing until Thursday morning.

Around 60 to 80mm of rainfall is expected to build up, with up to 100mm falling in some areas. 

A separate yellow warning extends to South Lanarkshire and will be in place until 3pm on Thursday.

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The Met Office said there could be a “danger to life from fast-flowing or deep floodwater”.

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Flooding in Summerston, Glasgow

The amber alerts also warn of potential damage to homes and businesses from flooding, dangerous driving conditions and travel disruption.

Communities could be cut off by flooded roads and face power cuts, according to the Met Office.

ScotRail said a number of services had been affected by heavy rain, with flooding at Bishoppbriggs and Dalmuir closing two rail lines.

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Speed restrictions have been put in place on services due to surface water and a replacement bus service between Stirling and Alloa has been introduced.

Network Rail advised passengers to travel only if the journey is “absolutely necessary”.

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: “Extreme rainfall can pose a serious risk to the railway, causing landslips or damaging our infrastructure and bridges.

“The safety of our passengers and colleagues is our main priority during periods of poor weather, and slowing services down and running fewer trains will help us manage these conditions for everyone.”

Meanwhile GlasGlow announced that its light show at Glasgow Botanic Gardens had to be cancelled last minute due to blocked drain at its entrance.

A post on the GlasGlow Facebook page said: “In the last 45 minutes the drain at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens has been overwhelmed and half a foot of water is blocking the entrance and road.

“The council have been alerted but unfortunately the entrance will be inaccessible to allow us to open safely. Inside the gardens, the show is fine and ready to go, the problem unfortunately is on the roads and out with our control.

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“We’re so sorry for the short notice however this situation has just arisen. If you’re a ticket holder for this evening a full refund will be processed and an email is on its way.”

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency tweeted: “A band of persistent and heavy rain in the south may lead to localised flooding from surface water and watercourses on Wednesday causing disruption to travel and flooding of low-lying land, especially in built up areas.”

The agency issued a flood warning for Ettrick Valley, while three flood alerts were in place in the Scottish Borders.


Celtic move within two points of Rangers with win at Hibernian

First half goals gave Celtic a 3-1 victory at Easter Road.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Anthony Ralston opened the scoring for Celtic.

Celtic produced a rampant first-half performance as they moved within two points of cinch Premiership leaders Rangers with a 3-1 victory over Hibernian at Easter Road.

Tony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kyogo Furuhashi all struck before the break to earn Ange Postecoglou’s resurgent side a fifth consecutive win in all competitions. Hibs, meanwhile, were left licking their wounds after a fourth consecutive defeat.

Home manager Jack Ross made four changes to the side beaten at Aberdeen last weekend as Darren McGregor, Chris Cadden, Jamie Gullan and Lewis Stevenson dropped out and were replaced by Ryan Porteous, Alex Gogic, Jamie Murphy and Josh Doig.

Celtic made just one alteration from the side that beat St Johnstone on Saturday. Mikey Johnston came in for his first start of the season, with Georgios Giakoumakis dropping to the bench.

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Ralston had the first effort of the match in the fourth minute but his low shot from 25 yards ran harmlessly wide of the Hibs goal.

The right-back fared better six minutes later, however, when he found space at the back post to nod in a David Turnbull free-kick from six yards.

Hibs almost responded two minutes later when Martin Boyle threaded a pass across goal for Joe Newell who was bursting in at the far post but the midfielder’s shot from close range was superbly saved by goalkeeper Joe Hart.

A minute later Celtic scored from another set-piece when Carter-Vickers got in front of Porteous to stab in Turnbull’s corner from 10 yards.

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There should have been more reason for the visitors to celebrate in the 20th minute when Johnston dummied a pass by Jota into the path of Turnbull but the former Motherwell player blazed high and wide from a great position just inside the box.

Celtic were well on top and the third goal arrived on the half-hour when, after good work by Tom Rogic, the ball broke to Jota wide on the right and the Portuguese squared for Kyogo to tap in from close range.

Hibs were in disarray and Matt Macey had to make a brilliant save to stop Kyogo netting again after the Japanese got in behind.

The hosts pulled one back against the run of play in the 36th minute when Newell’s corner was nodded in, with both Boyle and Porteous claiming they had got the final touch.

Celtic suffered a blow just before the break when Rogic was forced off by injury and replaced by Nir Bitton.

Hibs spent much of the second half probing to try and find another goal but the closest they came was in the 75th minute when Jamie Murphy got in behind and was denied by a brilliant save from Hart.


Man found guilty of terrorism after online mosque attack plot

Sam Imrie, 24, posted messages on social media claiming he was planning to attack Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes. 

Police Scotland / STV News

A man has been found guilty of terrorism and other offences after he threatened to set fire to an Islamic centre in Fife.

Sam Imrie, 24, was arrested after detectives discovered in July 2019 that he had been posting messages on social media claiming he was planning to attack Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes. 

Police who searched his home at Colliston Avenue in Glenrothes also made a number of other discoveries.

Officers found Imrie had acquired an arsenal of weapons, which included a combat knife, nunchucks, an axe, a knife, a hammer, a rifle scope and a wooden-handled lock knife.  

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Prosecutor Lisa Gillespie QC told the court how the police also recovered a “manifesto” entitled the “Great Replacement” by far right terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 people when he attacked two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019.

They also recovered a manifesto written by Anders Breivik, another fascist who slaughtered 77 people in attacks in Norway in 2011. 

Detectives found computer equipment containing thousands of images glorifying far-right terrorism attacks and Nazi ideology. 

Some of the images referred to Tarrant and Breivik as “saints” and one image was of pop star Taylor Swift, which had been photoshopped – the lenses of sunglasses she was wearing had been doctored to include swastikas.

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They found he possessed copies of Adolf Hitler’s work Mein Kampf, indecent images of children and extreme images that showed dead mutilated women being subjected to sexual acts. 

Imrie also possessed copies of the video that Tarrant had made of himself carrying out the shootings.

The 24-year-old was caught after officers in the Metropolitan Police tipped off Police Scotland counterparts. 

English officers had been scrutinising a group called ‘FashWave Artists’ on Telegram, an instant messaging app. 

The group hosted images and memes glorifying fascism but Imrie posted a series of messages in which he said he was planning to “burn down” a mosque. 

He also said he had written to Breivik. 

Detectives found CCTV footage of Imrie trying the door at the mosque before driving away. 

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A jury heard how armed police officers swooped on Imrie’s home at 2am and took him into custody. 

On Wednesday, Imrie, who denied any wrongdoing, was convicted on two charges of breaching the terrorism act, wilful fireraising, possessing child and ‘extreme’ indecent images and drink driving.

Moments after Ms Gillespie said the Crown were considering seeking a Serious Crime Prevention Order against Imrie, Lord Mulholland remanded the first offender in custody.

Imrie was told that the judge needed a background report before he could be sentenced.

Lord Mulholland also warned Imrie: “Be under no illusion – you have been convicted of very serious offences including gathering information about terrorism and encouraging terrorism, child pornography and extreme pornography. 

“You will not be surprised to know that you will be receiving a sentence of some length.”

Lord Mulholland spoke moments after jurors returned guilty verdicts to two terrorism charges. 

The first terrorism charge stated that Imrie made statements on Telegram and Facebook that encouraged acts of terrorism. 

The second charge he was convicted of stated that Imrie made a “record of information” that would be useful to somebody who was committing acts of terrorism. 

He was acquitted of a terrorism charge that stated he engaged in conduct in “preparation” of terrorism acts. 

Following his conviction, Pat Campbell, Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable for organised crime, counter terrorism and intelligence, said: “Sam Imrie was a socially-isolated-individual who displayed hateful intentions and the potential consequences of his actions do not bear thinking about. Police Scotland welcomes the outcome of the trial, which brings to a close what was an extremely complex investigation.

“I am grateful for the hard work and diligence of the officers who carried out the fast moving inquiry, as well as the support of our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“It should be stressed that cases such as Imrie’s are rare in Scotland and our officers remain absolutely committed to working with our partners to protect our communities.

“I want to take this opportunity to appeal directly to the public that if you become aware of anyone, including a family member or friend, displaying extremist views, or are concerned that they could be radicalised or involved in extremist or terrorist activity, not to hesitate to contact the police.

“Advice is available at the ACT Early Counter Terrorism Policing website and anyone with concerns should contact Police Scotland or the confidential anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321.”


COP26 lodging crisis: Thousands of delegates without somewhere to stay

Thousands of delegates and even more activists have not found accommodation for the UN climate conference.

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There are no campsites or camping facilities in Glasgow and the council is not setting any up for COP26.

There is no backup plan to provide shelter to thousands of people who have not found a place to stay during the UN climate conference.

Those coming to Glasgow to take part in events around COP26 have been warned not to travel to the city without securing accommodation, while even official UN badge holders are still struggling to secure somewhere to stay.

The UN climate conference has been facing a lodging crisis after only 15,000 hotel rooms were secured in advance despite more than 25,000 delegates, 10,000 police officers, and thousands more campaigners and activists expected.

The official housing bureau for the event only pre-booked 5000 rooms within 20 miles of the Scottish Exhibition Centre where COP26 will take place, a third of what was available.

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There are fewer than 15,000 hotel rooms within 20 miles of the SEC where COP26 is taking place.
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Even though environmental organisations have urged Glasgow City Council to work with them to open up gym halls as mass emergency accommodation or set aside designated campsites, no backup has been put in place.

“Last-minute” agreements have brought two cruise ships to the Clyde to provide 3300 berths between them.

With 100,000 activists due to take part in a climate march, there is fear that some will be left outside in the cold November weather with nowhere to shelter.

There are no campsites or camping facilities in Glasgow and the council is not setting any up for COP26.

“That’s where our concern lies, there isn’t a backup plan.”

Dr Kat Jones, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
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Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of environmental organisations, said at least 2000 people are on the waiting list of the Homestay Network – a not-for-profit response to the accommodation crisis.

The network was set up to help civil society and community representatives from the Global South attend the climate talks, but it has found itself swamped with requests from official delegates.

Around 1000 Scots have opened their homes to visitors through the scheme but the organisation’s COP26 project manager said it has not been possible to absorb the numbers left without a place to stay.

“We have been in conversation with the council over a number of months about opening gym halls for emergency accommodation and setting up safe camping spaces where we can put portaloos, but they haven’t really helped us with that,” said doctor Kat Jones.

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Dr Kat Jones and Janice Fisher at the Scottish Affairs Committee.

“That’s where our concern lies, there isn’t a backup plan.”

MCI Group was appointed by the UK Government and the UN as the official housing bureau for COP26.

Janice Fisher, joint chair of Greater Glasgow Hoteliers Association, told a government committee that within two miles of the exhibition centre there are only 9750 hotel bedrooms and that within 20 miles this only increased to 14,399 – but MCI only secured a third of these.

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Ms Fisher said MCI had been asked to secure accommodation in other parts of the country as well to encourage a range of offers and pricing.

She said there were alternative ways of booking somewhere to stay including the Homestay Network, campsites outside the city and Airbnb.

An Airbnb host was banned from taking bookings during COP26 after attempting to hike a delegate’s room rate by £2000.

Dr Jones urged those who have not secured a place to sleep to take part in the conference in their local areas.

“There are all sorts of activities not centred around Glasgow, in London, many cities around England and a few others in Scotland,” she said.

“We’d encourage people to go to their local place rather than travel to Glasgow.”

A UK Government COP26 spokesperson said it had been working with MCI to make sure there was a balance of available lodging.

They said: “As hosts of COP26 it is of huge importance to the UK there is a wide range of fairly-priced accommodation options available which suit the budgets of delegates attending from around the world.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council warned the weather in November in Glasgow can be very cold and changeable.

They said: “As we, and others, have been saying over the last few weeks, Glasgow will be extremely busy with delegates and visitors as COP26 gets underway.

“We would ask people wishing to stay in the city not to travel to Glasgow without first securing accommodation.”


‘Scotland should open consumption rooms without law change’

The campaigners were speaking before the Criminal Justice Committee at Holyrood.

Paul Faith via PA Wire
The facilities were first suggested after an HIV outbreak in Glasgow.

Scotland should open drug consumption rooms without waiting for a change in the law, campaigners have said.

The Scottish Government has long been in favour of the facilities, which would provide a safe area with medical supervision for people struggling with addiction to take drugs.

But the UK Government has stood against the idea, refusing to grant a waiver to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 that would allow for the users and staff to be protected from prosecution.

The first facility was planned by Glasgow City Council but other local authorities have expressed an interest.

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Campaigner Peter Krykant ran a safe consumption room from a converted minivan in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Campaigner Peter Krykant, frustrated with the legal wrangle over the facilities, created his own in the form of a converted minivan that would go to different areas of the city.

Both Mr Krykant and Scottish Drugs Forum chief executive David Liddell OBE said the fact no prosecutions have resulted from the van shows the Scottish Government could give the go-ahead for the facilities.

“When I ran the safe consumption facility in Glasgow, there was no police intervention apart from a meaningless allegation of obstruction in the course of a search, so we could go ahead and open these facilities with a simple divert scheme into those facilities,” Mr Krykant told Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.

“I already know Police Scotland officers were seeing people injecting in alleyways and diverting them to my ambulance to come and inject in a safe, supervised environment to reduce the risk of HIV.”

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Mr Liddell said: “As Peter has alluded to in terms of the drug consumption room he ran, there was no public interest in prosecuting Peter and no prosecution followed.

“It’s a ridiculous state of affairs that he could run a service like that and not be prosecuted but Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board that want to run a service like that can’t.

“We should proceed with drug consumption rooms in Scotland under the current legislation.

“If that requires a letter of comfort from the Lord Advocate – that is what we’ve previously advocated and pushed for.”

The Scottish Government has said as recently as this month that work continues to find a way to open the facilities.

In a meeting with UK policing minister Kit Malthouse, drugs minister Angela Constance said “we will leave no stone unturned in working to overcome existing legal barriers to implement safe consumption rooms in Scotland”.

The calls for the facilities began in the middle of the last decade following a major HIV outbreak in Glasgow, but these have now morphed into a response to the drugs death crisis, which figures show killed 1339 people in 2020.


Meet the climate activists fighting for change at COP26

Protests have been planned during the COP26 climate conference.

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With days to go until COP26 in Glasgow, climate activists have pledged to increase the pressure on world leaders.

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Ministers not obliged to order ‘McMafia orders’, court hears

A judicial review is looking into why the Scottish Government did not try to place an unexplained wealth order on former US President Donald Trump.

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The order allows for an investigation into how a person or company earned money.

Ministers have a “discretion” rather than an obligation to order unexplained wealth orders to investigate individuals’ finances, a court review of a Scottish Government decision relating to Donald Trump has heard.

A judicial review at the Court of Session is considering the Scottish Government’s decision not to investigate the former US President ‘s finances in Scotland.

The US-based Avaaz Foundation petitioned Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, to grant a judicial review after ministers in Edinburgh declined to place an unexplained wealth order (UWO) – sometimes described as a “McMafia order” – on Trump.

The order allows for an investigation into how a person or company earned money.

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Ruth Crawford QC, representing Scottish ministers, said the challenge from the petitioners is rooted on there being a duty to seek a UWO.

However, referring to S396A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Poca), she said ministers did not have an obligation to do so.

She told the virtual hearing: “S396A1 provides that the Court of Session may, on an application made by the Scottish ministers, make an unexplained wealth order.”

She added: “The ministers have a discretion rather than an absolute obligation to make an application to the Court of Session.”

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Crawford said that UWOs have at the very least the “taint of criminality” and that one of the “limbs” of another section of the act is that the property has been funded by illegitimate sources of income.

She told the court: “The petitioners are not coming to this court saying we are unable to make a challenge.  Indeed, its challenge is firmly rooted on there being a duty to seek a UWO.

“Unexplained wealth orders are not just investigatory tools or as an aspect of good housekeeping, UWOs as my Lord is aware from S396a etc, give rise to a presumption, if they are not complied with, that presumption being that the property has been obtained through unlawful conduct and that the civil recovery order requirements have been met.”

Lord Sandison QC said he was being asked to decide whether Scottish minsters had acted unlawfully.

He said: “The actual declarator I’m being asked to make, F, is that by failing to seek an unexplained wealth order in relation to Mr Trump the Scottish ministers have failed in their duty and have therefore acted unlawfully.

“I don’t for the moment see that as me being asked to make any order equivalent to saying that had an application been made it would have been granted.

“The question is simply I’m being asked effectively to determine the lawfulness of the failure to make an application.”

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The judicial review, which began on Tuesday, previously heard that there is a dispute over whose responsibility it is to apply to a court for a UWO, particularly between the Lord Advocate – the head of Scotland’s prosecution service – and Scottish ministers.

The inquiry heard that the Scotland Act permits Scottish ministers, including the Lord Advocate, to exercise functions with a collective responsibility.

It also permits the Lord Advocate to exercise “retained functions”, to which collective responsibility would not attach.

Crawford said: “Parliament when passing the Poca in 2002, when passing the Extradition Act in 2003 and when passing the Criminal Finances Act in 2017, which sought to amend Poca by inter alia introducing unexplained wealth orders (UWOs), must be presumed to have known that the Lord Advocate exercises statutory functions as a member of the collective Scottish ministers entity and also that she exercises retained functions independently.

“That being so, in my submission, there is nothing unlawful about the fact that the Lord Advocate is the minister with portfolio responsibility for part eight of Poca, including seeking an unexplained wealth order.”

The hearing before Lord Sandison continues.


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