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Police to use technology that helps search mobile phones

Police Scotland confirmed the so-called cyber kiosks will be given to officers on Monday, January 20.

Technology: Police will be able to override encryption on mobile phones.
Technology: Police will be able to override encryption on mobile phones.

Technology that allows police officers to gather data from mobile phones or tablets without a password is to be rolled out next week.

Police Scotland confirmed on Tuesday that the so-called cyber kiosks – digital triage devices – will be given to officers on Monday, January 20.

The kiosks are desktop-sized machines that enable the user to override encryption, in some cases, on devices such as mobiles and tablets.

Technology was due to be deployed earlier but the roll-out was hit by delays as MSPs called for greater clarity over the legal framework for their use.

A total of 41 kiosks have already been bought by Police Scotland and will be located across all policing divisions.

It is expected all of the kiosks will be operational before the end of May.

Police Scotland believe having the kiosks will allow lines of inquiry to be progressed at a faster pace, with officers being able to return mobile devices to their owners when they are having to assess them for potential evidence.

Officers will only examine the device of an individual when there is a legal basis and it is “necessary, justified and proportionate” to the crime under investigation.

They will not be enabled to store data from any devices and when an examination is complete all data will be securely deleted.

Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said having the ability to quickly assess which devices either do or do not contain evidence on them will minimise the intrusion into people’s lives.

“Many online offences disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in our society… and our priority is to protect those people.”

Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham, Police Scotland

“We are committed to providing the best possible service to victims and witnesses of crime,” he said.

“This means we must keep pace with society. People of all ages now lead a significant part of their lives online and this is reflected in how we investigate crime and the evidence we present to courts.

“Many online offences disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in our society, such as children at risk of sexual abuse, and our priority is to protect those people.”

He added: “Increases in the involvement of digital devices in investigations and the ever-expanding capabilities of these devices mean that demand on digital forensic examinations is higher than ever.

“Current limitations, however, mean the devices of victims, witnesses and suspects can be taken for months at a time, even if it later transpires that there is no worthwhile evidence on them.

“By quickly identifying devices which do and do not contain evidence, we can minimise the intrusion on people’s lives and provide a better service to the public.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome Police Scotland’s ongoing work to adapt to changes in society, including the use of technology which can present both challenges and opportunities.

“It is important that the service continues to gather and manage evidence efficiently, appropriately, and in a way that supports victims and witnesses during the investigation process.

“More generally, the justice secretary has committed to setting up an independently chaired advisory group to consider whether there are any implications arising from emerging technological developments.

“Preparatory work is in hand and further announcements on the remit and composition will be made in the coming months.”

Retired police inspector found guilty of murdering wife

Keith Farquharson killed Alice Farquharson at their home in Aberdeen.

Keith Farquharson: Guilty of murder following trial at High Court in Glasgow.

A retired police officer has been found guilty of murdering his wife of 33 years.

Keith Farquharson killed Alice Farquharson at their home in Aberdeen last August.

The 60-year-old ex-inspector had denied murdering the 56-year-old school support assistant, but was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow.

He will be given a life sentence, with a minimum prison term to be set next month. An attempt to plead guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide was rejected by prosecutors.

After the verdict, the Farquharson family said they “will never be the same again”.

They added: “To describe the loss of our mum, Alice, as a shock would be an understatement. She was an incredibly kind and caring person, with a great love for life and the people in it.”

During his trial, the former police officer, who retired from the force in 2010, claimed his wife’s death was an accident after a struggle in their bedroom.

He had previously claimed he’d come out of the shower to find her unconscious in the room.

Alice Farquharson died at her home in Aberdeen last August.

Farquharson admitted to having affairs with other women and told the court Alice didn’t trust him.

She had suspected him of seeing another woman shortly before he was murdered, the trial was told.

The court heard police initially believed her death wasn’t suspicious, before being persuaded by one detective to investigate the case as murder.

The couple’s three grown-up children – chemical engineer Joanna, teacher Sarah and son Kerr – who is in the RAF – were in court for the verdict.

Their father showed no emotion and refused to look at them as he was led handcuffed to the cells.

Detective Inspector Gary Winter, of Police Scotland’s major investigation team, paid tribute to Alice’s family.

He said: “I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this has been in addition to dealing with the devastating impact this incident has had on their family.

“Although today’s verdict can’t change what happened, I hope the outcome gives them some sense of justice for their mum.”

On the morning of the murder, Farquharson got up to start his shift as a school bus driver.

As she lay in bed, Alice asked him: “Do you love me?”

Farquharson admitted he “groaned” at the question before claiming his wife slapped him.

The ex-traffic officer insisted they had a struggle and he put his hand over Alice’s mouth to stop her screaming.

Farquharson went on: “It was as if she started to choke. I knew something was wrong. When I let go she just rolled off the bed.”

He made a panicked 999 call but medics were unable to save Alice, who was found to have suffered “mechanical asphyxia”.

Farquharson then spun a web of lies to relatives, claiming he had discovered Alice stricken in the bedroom after hearing a noise while in the shower.

Alice Farquharson: Family described her as ‘incredibly kind and caring’.

But he told the trial: “I continued with the lie because I was in a state of shock. I felt guilty and did not want my family to know.”

Detectives initially treated the death as “non suspicious”.

But Inspector Christopher Kerr – one of the officers at the Farquharsons’ home that morning – pushed for further inquiries.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked him: “You had reached a view this should be treated as a suspicious death.

“But, a detective inspector and sergeant decided the matter was non suspicious and that that the home was to be returned to the family.

“Did you agree with that assessment?”

Insp Kerr replied: “No.”

He insisted a post-mortem should be “expedited immediately” eventually leading to a murder probe.

Farquharson repeatedly sobbed in the witness box insisting he did not mean to kill Alice.

He said: “It was totally accidental. I wish it never happened.”

Keith Farquharson will be given a life sentence when he returns to court next month.

A pathologist concluded Alice’s neck had been compressed and that bruises on her face were consistent with gripping.

Mr Prentice said Alice must have been “fighting for her life”.

It also emerged – hours before she was killed – Alice had made web searches including “bidding for a house in Shetland” and “houses to bid for Shetland”.

After the verdict, the advocate depute revealed Farquharson had been convicted in 1998 of a breach of the peace while serving in the former Grampian Police.

Mr Prentice: “This is described as being of a sexualised nature and he was fined £500.

“It involved a work colleague and some form of writing, There were disciplinary proceedings which resulted in demotion for a period of time.”

Friend’s tribute to mum killed by ex-police officer husband

Alice Farquharson, 56, was murdered by her husband, retired police inspector Keith Farquharson.

By Jenness Mitchell and Colin Wight.

A close friend of murder victim Alice Farquharson has described the much-loved mum as an “English rose” that was “gentle, kind and loving”.

Aberdeen councillor Jennifer Stewart paid tribute to the 56-year-old school support assistant, telling STV News that “her family was at the centre of everything she did”.

She said: “I think if someone asked me for my own words just to describe Alice, I would say she was like an English rose. She was gentle, kind, loving.”

Court: Keith Farquharson was found guilty of murder.

Her husband Keith Farquharson has been found guilty of her murder.

The 60-year-old retired police inspector claimed his wife’s death at their home in Aberdeen last August 29 was an accident following a struggle in bed.

Giving evidence at the High Court in Glasgow, he stated Ms Farquharson asked him if he loved her before slapping his face.

To stop her “lashing out”, he admitted putting a hand over her mouth to stop her screaming.

Farquharson went on to dial 999, but Ms Farquharson’s life could not be saved. She was later found to have suffered “mechanical asphyxia”.

On Tuesday, a jury rejected Farquharson’s claim and found him guilty of murder.

Tribute: Aberdeen councillor Jennifer Stewart.

Councillor Stewart said she was stunned when Farquharson was arrested over her friend’s death.

She said: “I sometimes find it difficult to comprehend that it has actually happened.

“When I first heard that Alice had died, I thought ‘what happened? And what was she ill of? I wasn’t aware of anything’.

“And that was my immediate thought – ‘had she had cancer, no one had told us’.

“And then when we heard otherwise, it was just ‘I can’t believe this. Is this real?’

“I was just feeling quite stunned.”

Police: The home the couple shared.

During the trial, Farquharson admitted having affairs with three women and said his wife of 33 years did not “trust him”.

The court was told last week how “sexually explicit” messages from 2018 had been found on his phone, however Farquharson claimed his adultery had ended by 2019.

Councillor Stewart said: “I didn’t really know him much. I met him a few times and he seemed quite a formidable person. But I really didn’t engage with him, and that’s just an honest observation of the years I knew Alice.

“I did think in my own way, and I’m sure others would say, that he seemed quite controlling.

“Not that anyone would overtly see, but I think that some of her friends had ideas that maybe Alice wasn’t as free as she could be.”

Arrest: Keith Farquharson claimed the murder was an accident.

On behalf of Hazelhead Primary School, where Ms Farquharson worked, headteacher Barbara Jones said: “Alice had worked at Hazlehead Primary for 17 years and as a result was a very well-known face in the school community who was loved by all.

“She almost had a role of being the school mum to all staff.

“Alice always recognised the little things, she had a way of making people feel special through a kind word, gift or gesture.”

Ms Farquharson was said to be “instrumental” in the development of the school grounds as a place of “comfort and sanctuary for more vulnerable children”.

Missed: The school community will develop the grounds in Ms Farquharson’s memory.

Ms Jones added: “She recognised the positive impact of outdoor spaces on the wellbeing of children and worked hard to make sure that all children, even those who were at times hard to reach, were fully included in developing school spaces.

“Alice championed pupil participation and pupil voice, she gave a voice to those who could find it hard to contribute.

“Alice had a love of literacy and the power of story and was an avid reader. This love saw her establish and develop the school library including supporting children to act as librarians, running story telling sessions and taking the library outdoors when the weather was kind.”

The school community now intends to develop the grounds in her memory.

Ms Jones said: “Of late Alice became a validated Seasons for Growth companion and very supportive of the emotional wellbeing of the children.

“This led to her spending her own time making application for funding to develop the school grounds further, an area the school community will take forward in her memory.”

Lewis Capaldi crowned winner at Brit Awards 2020

The Scottish star won Best New Artist at the ceremony on Tuesday night.

Getty Images
Superstar: Singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi.

Lewis Capaldi has won Best New Artist at the Brit Awards.

The Scottish star, who sang number one hit Someone You Loved at the glittering ceremony in London on Tuesday night, saw off competition from Aitch, Dave, Mabel and Sam Fender to pick up the award.

The singer-songwriter is also up for Song of the Year for Someone You Loved and Mastercard Album of the Year for Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.

He missed out on the Male Solo Artist gong to grime artist Stormzy.

Capaldi: The Scots star on the red carpet.

British singer Mabel opened the show with a performance of her song Don’t Call Me Up.

Earlier on the red carpet, she said it felt like a “full-circle” moment, saying: “It’s actually 30 years since my mum [musician Neneh Cherry] performed at the Brits and it’s just so amazing and such a lovely, sort of full-circle moment.

“Mainly I just feel so honoured to be here tonight, it’s been such a journey”.

She went on to win the second award of the night as she was named the winner of the Female Solo Artist category.

Harry Styles performed, as did American singer Lizzo, who sang a medley of her songs including Truth Hurts and Juice.

Picking up the Male Solo Artist award, Stormzy thanked the women in his team.

He said: “To be the best male, I have got the most incredible females in my team.

“You lot are the greatest, the best male is nothing without the best females. I love you guys.

“To every single person who supported me, I love you. Thank you guys.”

After winning the International Male Solo Artist award, Tyler, The Creator made fun of former prime minister Theresa May, who he said had previously stopped him entering the country.

He also paid tribute to the UK music scene, saying: “Shout out to all the British funk from the 80s that I try to copy.”

The ceremony is being hosted by Jack Whitehall, who paid tribute to Caroline Flack, who he said was “a member of the Brits family” during his opening monologue.

He said the Love Island presenter, who was found dead on Saturday having taken her own life, was “a kind and vibrant person with an infectious sense of fun”.

“She will be sorely missed,” he said.

American singer Billie Eilish performed the new James Bond track, No Time To Die, live for the first time.

The 18-year-old was joined on stage by her brother and co-writer, Finneas O’Connell, as well as Hans Zimmer and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr.

After her performance, Eilish was named winner of the International Female Solo Artist award.

Brit Award winners 2020

  • Best New Artist – Lewis Capaldi
  • Female Solo Artist – Mabel
  • Male Solo Artist – Stormzy
  • International Male Solo Artist – Tyler, The Creator
  • Best Group – Foals
  • International Female Solo Artist – Billy Eilish

Man arrested over assault on pensioner who later died

Margaret Grant, 79, died following a disturbance at her house in Edinburgh’s Restalrig Circus last month.

Investigation: Margaret Grant died in hospital following a disturbance at her home in Edinburgh.

A man has been arrested in connection with an assault and robbery at the home of a pensioner who later died.

Margaret Grant, 79, died in hospital following a disturbance at her house in Edinburgh’s Restalrig Circus at around 6.50pm on Friday, January 24.

A 39-year-old man is due to appear at the city’s sheriff court on Wednesday in connection with an assault and robbery.

Ice sensors to be installed on Queensferry Crossing

A five-point plan is being put in place to monitor the condition of the bridge in winter conditions.

Bridge: The Queensferry Crossing.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has announced ice sensors will be installed on the Queensferry Crossing “in the coming months” following its closure last week.

The bridge was shut for two days after falling ice damaged up to eight cars, causing a political backlash over the first closure since it opened in 2017.

In Holyrood on Tuesday, Mr Matheson said a five-point plan is being put in place to monitor the condition of the bridge in winter weather and ice sensors will be installed within months.

The transport secretary also said the option of using the Forth Road Bridge in the event of another closure – which was set aside as a public transport corridor after the opening of the crossing – is being explored.

A technical briefing is due to take place for local MSPs and members of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on February 24 to “inform them of the circumstances of the closure, our developing understanding of why this happened and how we plan to respond to these challenges”, according to Mr Matheson.

Asked by Greens MSP Mark Ruskell about the closure, Mr Matheson said: “Initial learning from the event on February 10 has resulted in a five-point plan being put in place to further enhance monitoring and gather increased intelligence from the observations.

“Visual monitoring remains the primary source of understanding the effects of these conditions and this will be assisted by the installation of ice sensors in the coming months.”

Mr Ruskell asked if there was a procedure to be undertaken if the decision is made to close the bridge and who should be contacted in the result of a problem – after it was revealed Fife Council was not made aware of the intended closure before it happened.

Assuring the MSP that efforts were made to contact the council, Mr Matheson said: “I understand and recognise the difficulties that it caused people and I very much regret that.

“As I’m sure the member will appreciate, [the decision] was taken because of safety.

“My understanding is that they did seek to engage with Fife Council to make them aware of this.”

Mr Matheson added the debrief could be used as a chance to assess what further measures could be put in place to ensure communication is stronger between authorities.

He said Transport Scotland staff are looking into the possibility of using the Forth Road Bridge – which currently has one carriageway closed for refurbishment and another servicing as a public transport corridor – should there be another closure.

He said: “One of the actions I’ve asked my officials to look at in the future is that, given there was major refurbishment work taking place on the Forth Road crossing, is that in future winter periods we look to minimise the works that may be being carried out so it could be used as a diversion route – which would reduce the need for an extended diversion route through places like Kincardine.”

Child’s death at flagship hospital reported to prosecutors

Ten-year-old Milly Main died at the Royal Hospital for Children in 2017.

Milly Main: 10-year-old's death reported to prosecutors.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has reported the death of ten-year-old Millie Main to the procurator fiscal, it has emerged.

Milly died in 2017 at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) on the campus of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) from an infection, which her mother said she believes was “100%” due to contaminated water.

Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar has been supporting Milly’s parents since it emerged they were not told about any link between their daughter’s death and contaminated water at the site.

Sarwar was passed information by a whistle-blower showing an outside contractor warning of infection risks at the hospital through its water pipes on three separate occasions.

Now, the health board has reported the child’s death to the procurator fiscal, something which the Labour MSP has said is an attempt by management to “look like it is being proactive”.

Kimberly Darroch, Milly’s mother, has previously called on the lord advocate to hold a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the cause of Milly’s death through a letter from her solicitors – which also referred the case to the procurator fiscal.

Sarwar said: “Milly’s death should have been reported to the procurator fiscal at the time.

“The way her family has been treated is disgraceful, they were kept in the dark for years and shown no respect by the health board when a brave whistle-blower shone a light on the QEUH infection scandal.

“The health board has now decided to refer the case to the procurator fiscal in the knowledge that Milly’s parents did so weeks ago.

“It is a cynical attempt to look like it is being proactive when it has been deliberately evasive up until now.”

The politician added: “I’m sure the lord advocate will listen to Milly’s parents’ demand for a fatal accident inquiry.

“This is a painful experience for Milly’s family – it is forcing them to relive her death all over again, nearly three years after her tragic death.

“I will not stop until there is justice for Milly’s parents and they receive the answers they deserve.

“The NHS board has lost the trust of parents, patients and the public.

“Those in charge must go – allowing a truly independent investigation so that the truth comes out and something like this can never happen again.”

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has escalated the board to level four on a five-level scale of government involvement in the authority and has told bosses they have “one last chance” to respond appropriately to the scandal.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The death of any child is a tragedy and we continue to offer our sympathies to Milly’s family for their loss.

“Following recent concerns from Milly’s family, the public interest in her death and discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, we sought advice from the procurator fiscal.

“Following this advice, it was deemed appropriate to refer Milly’s case to the procurator fiscal, which we have now done.

“Milly’s case is also being considered as part of the review of patient episodes that Professor Marion Bain, director of infection prevention and control, will be overseeing and this will involve Milly’s family in whatever way they wish.”

Alex Salmond appears in court ahead of trial next month

The former first minister face 14 charges including attempted rape and multiple sexual assaults.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has made a further court appearance ahead of his trial next month over attempted rape and sexual assault charges.

The hearing at the High Court in Glasgow follows previous court appearances in Edinburgh in November and January, when he denied all 14 charges against him.

Details of the hearing cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Salmond, 65, faces charges of offences against ten women and is due to stand trial in March.

He is accused of attempting to rape a woman at Bute House, the official residence of the first minister of Scotland, in June 2014 during the independence referendum campaign.

The former first minister is also accused of sexually assaulting a woman with intent to rape in December 2013.

Overall, the charges span from June 29, 2008 to November 11, 2014 – two months after he stepped down as first minister and SNP leader.

He is accused of two indecent assaults and 10 sexual assaults, an attempted rape and a sexual assault with intent to rape, all of which he denies.

Puppy raid gang who held knife at girl’s throat jailed

Machete was held at ten-year-old girl's throat before puppies worth £8000 were taken.

Eight three-week-old puppies were stolen from the house.

Three men who stole stole puppies in a raid which saw a machete held to a schoolgirl’s throat have been jailed.

Ben Murphy, 19, Liam Kinsella, 27, and Samuel Durnion, 21, smashed into a house in Castlemilk, Glasgow, last August.

A judge heard a ten-year-old girl had a machete held against her throat before the gang stole eight three-week old Bull Mastiff pups valued at £8000.

The trio were sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow having earlier admitted acting with others in the assault and robbery.

Murphy was sentenced to 30 months and Kinsella for five years and three months, while Durnion was locked up for four years.

Durnion will also be supervised for a further two years on his release.

Judge Lord Beckett described the raid as “pre-meditated” and said it had had a “profound” effect on those involved.

It is not known exactly how many of the dogs were returned.

Almost 6000 Scots took their own lives over seven years

Almost a third of those who killed themselves had called the Scottish Ambulance Service on at least one occasion before their deaths.

Almost 6,000 Scots took their own lives between 2011 and 2018.

Almost 6000 Scots took their own lives between 2011 and 2018, according to newly released statistics.

ISD Scotland said 44% contacted paramedics, NHS 24 or out-of-hours GP services in the year before their death.

Its new report looking into Scotland’s suicide figures reveals almost a third (33%) of those who killed themselves had called the Scottish Ambulance Service on at least one occasion before their suicide.

The study is the first of its kind to look at people’s contact with one of the care services in the 12 months before they took their own lives.

It found the 5982 people living in Scotland who died by suicide over those years “were significantly more likely to have had contact with an unscheduled care service in the 12 months before death than members of the general population”.

The report notes the highest levels of contact with unscheduled care services were associated with women over 75 who are living in the most economically-deprived areas.

Boys and men between the ages of five and 24 were linked to lower levels of contact with these services, as well as those living in more affluent or remote areas.

The report adds: “Health service planners will want to consider possible improvements to the organisation, reach and delivery of services targeted at groups at high risk of suicide, while healthcare providers will want to consider improvements to the identification, engagement and effective treatment of individuals in these groups.”

The findings led to a call from Scottish Labour for more “joined-up working” between health and social care services, as well as more investment for mental health services.

Mental health minister Clare Haughey cited the suicide prevention action plan, which is receiving £3m funding over five years and is chaired by former deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick.

She said: “Every suicide is a tragedy with a far-reaching impact on family, friends and communities.

“Suicide prevention is a key priority for the Scottish Government and requires on-going analysis and research.

“Through our Suicide Prevention Action Plan – supported by £3m funding over the course of the current Parliament – we are working to reduce the rate of suicide in Scotland and are ensuring that those affected by suicide have access to the right support.

“This report represents a significant contribution to the growing evidence base around suicide in Scotland which will inform current and future policy and activity.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy.

“All of us must get better at listening and talking so that none of us feel alone.

“Reducing mental health stigma needs our collective efforts, proper funding for health and social services, and joined up working so that there is no wrong door.”

The Samaritans can be contacted for free at any time of the day on 116 123.

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