Warning over using pyrotechnics at sport and music events

Sport and music fans have been warned over the dangers of setting off pyrotechnics.

Pyro: Smoke bombs and flares set off during a premiership clash.
Pyro: Smoke bombs and flares set off during a premiership clash.

Sport and music fans have been warned over setting off pyrotechnics inside stadiums and at concerts.

Flares and smoke bombs are regularly used at large gatherings such as music festivals and sporting events.

Most notable at football matches, they are regularly seen at both Celtic and Rangers matches.

Fans of both clubs have been in the dock over the use of the explosive type devices, that can reach temperatures of up to 1200 degrees, and have also been seen at music festivals,such as TRNSMT in Glasgow.

ADVERT

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Ross Haggart, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s director of prevention and protection, said: “We are seeing a variety of pyrotechnics being used at stadiums and events across Scotland.

“Some people perhaps think it is a way of creating an atmosphere or promoting their team, but all forms of pyro – flares, smoke bombs and flash bangs – pose risks.

“There have been examples of flares being thrown onto pitches or towards individuals.

“People need to understand the potential consequences being struck by such an item can have – a flare can inflict life-threatening injuries as they burn at temperatures in excess of 1200 degrees.

ADVERT

“There’s also the added threat brought by smoke grenades, which emit toxic substances and can cause respiratory difficulty for people who are in attendance simply to enjoy a match or take in a concert.”

ACO Haggart added: “Ultimately, the overall message is a simple one: leave pyro to the professionals who host large-scale events.”

In September last year two people were hurt after smoke bombs were set off during a Livingston v Rangers game.

A 26-year-old woman suffered a minor leg injury and a 13-year-old boy needed treatment to his eyes.

And in October, Celtic were fined over the use of Pyrotechnics during a Europa League game which led to the club closing part of their stadium for a game in November.

Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable Mark Williams said: “There is ‘no place for pyro’ at concerts or football. 

“They are dangerous and can cause serious and life changing injuries; most of all to the people using them.”


‘It felt like Grace was on trial’ – father decries court verdict

Stewart Handling says 'not proven' does not serve any purpose after teenager accused of killing his daughter was set free.

The father of a schoolgirl who died after taking ecstasy says the ‘not proven’ verdict in Scotland doesn’t serve any purpose, after the teenager accused of killing her was set free.

Stewart Handling told STV News it felt like his daughter, Grace, was on trial at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this month.

Callum Owens was cleared of killing Grace after admitting that he supplied her with ecstasy.

Owens admitted giving Grace a pill on June 28, 2018, from a bag of nine he had bought.

ADVERT

She was later found dead in 19-year-old Owens’ house in Irvine, North Ayrshire.

Owens denied culpable homicide, and a majority jury found the charge not proven.

Mr Handling said: “I don’t like not proven. It doesn’t serve any kind of purpose in my book, you’re either guilty or not guilty, so this middle ground I can only see it there to help the jury member, that’s the only plausible benefit of having that; it helps the jury member who hasn’t had quite enough evidence to sway them one way or another.

“This is the first case of its kind, so I just hope that the fiscal (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) in the future are still brave and if – god forbid this ever happens to another family – that we go for a conviction.”

Grace Handling
ADVERT

Grace’s father also said it felt at times as if it was his daughter, and not Owens, who was on trial.

“You had to say to yourself ‘wait a minute, who’s on trial here’, so that bit is wrong; that you’re able to crucify somebody’s character,” said Mr Handling.

“I think Grace was absolutely savaged in there (court), her character was totally blackened – a wee 13-year-old girl, she’s probably been in a group and she’s probably said ‘no’ 100 times to ecstasy and maybe an odd time, maybe once or twice, she’s given into that.

“She would actually hate the way this happened, you know, her life ended, she would be angry.”

Grace’s family had been aware that she’d taken the drug before, but believed she had stopped after they spoke to her.

The family would like to see tougher sentences for dealers who supply drugs to children. They hope other families won’t have to experience their pain.

“She was a typical teenager, she had a difficult phase, you don’t ever think it’s going to come to an end, you always think ‘you know something, in a few weeks’ time it will be better or in a few months’ time she’ll get over that and she’ll make better choices’, said Mr Handling.

ADVERT

“Grace was a special girl because she always thought of others and that’s why I’m sure she was at that house in the first place, because she knew that that boy was in his first tenancy alone and she didn’t want him to feel alone

“It was one of the hardest days of my life (the day of the court verdict), apart from the police coming to tell us that Grace had been found dead. It was up there with that day.”

Sturgeon to announce coronavirus restrictions for Scotland

The First Minister has said she will decide on further restrictions with her ministers following a Cobra meeting on Tuesday morning.

Getty Images
First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon will announce new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce new measures at Holyrood to tackle the spread of coronavirus across Scotland.

The First Minister has said she will decide on further restrictions with her ministers following a Cobra meeting on Tuesday morning.

It comes after four chief medical officers across the UK nations decided that the Covid-19 alert level should be raised to four.

The First Minister previously said coronavirus is spreading again in Scotland and “further and urgent action” is needed to stop the increase, warning if left unchecked it will lead to more cases, people in hospital and deaths.

ADVERT

She said the Scottish Government is prepared to introduce “a package of additional measures” but will aim to avoid a full-scale lockdown such as the one imposed in March.

On Monday, restrictions were announced in Northern Ireland meaning there will be no mixing of two households indoors, except for single-person bubbles and certain other exemptions, from 6pm on Tuesday.

No more than six people from two households can meet in private gardens.

Sturgeon added: “I will be clear that I am willing to allow a bit more time for four-nations discussions to take place before making final decisions for Scotland.

ADVERT

“But I will be equally clear that the urgency of this situation will mean that we cannot, must not and will not wait too long.”


Government ‘should discourage breeding of flat-faced pets’

The charity OneKind said such breeds can have 'extensive and serious welfare concerns'.

Holyrood: Next government urged to take steps.

Animal campaigners are calling on the next Scottish government to take steps to discourage the breeding of “flat-faced” animals, such as pugs, French bulldogs and Persian cats.

The charity OneKind said such breeds can have “extensive and serious welfare concerns”, saying they can suffer from breathing problems throughout their lives.

But it added during the coronavirus lockdown there had been a demand for brachycephalic, or “flat-faced”, dogs as pets – with the charity claiming that the French bulldog is now the most popular dog breed in the UK.

As a result of their popularity, the charity argued measures to discourage the breeding of such animals should be introduced after the next Holyrood elections in May.

ADVERT

OneKind director Bob Elliot said: “During the pandemic, there has been demand for brachycephalic, or ‘flat-faced’, dogs and the French bulldog is now the most popular dog breed in the UK.

“OneKind has actively campaigned to raise awareness of the extensive and serious welfare concerns associated with these breeds and the high demand for them has prompted us to include an ask in our manifesto to end the breeding of these ‘flat-faced’ dogs, cats and rabbits.”

The charity’s manifesto said that for brachycephalic animals such as pugs and Persian cats, the “majority” of such creatures “suffer severe breathing problems for their entire lives”.

Calling for measures to discourage the breeding of animals with these “exaggerated features”, it said that “breeding regulations should include a proviso that selective breeding favours welfare over appearance”.

ADVERT

Retired veterinary surgeon Dr Andy Cage, who worked for the PDSA animal charity for some 40 years, said: “Over the last few years, due to the increasing popularity of the flat-faced dog breeds, I was seeing a dramatic increase in the numbers presented to the hospital.

“French bulldogs predominated, but we saw many pugs and bulldogs too.

Most, if not all, were suffering from breathing difficulties and many had additional problems, such as ulcers on the surface of the eyeballs and spinal and limb deformities.”

He added: “Before Covid restrictions intervened, we were having to carry out risky surgery on some of these pets every week to open up airways and attempt to save sight.

“Some of the spinal deformities resulted in paralysis and incontinence which meant the animal couldn’t be saved.

“The worst thing was that many owners weren’t aware of the suffering their pets were enduring and thought the bulging eyes and snorting were ‘cute’.”

OneKind also wants to see the next Scottish government act to ban the sale, manufacture, possession and use of snares, and to introduce new legislation to “make the ban on hunting with dogs effective and enforceable”.

ADVERT

It says Scottish ministers should press the UK Government to replace animal testing with alternatives, with the manifesto stressing that “animals are individual beings, not commodities, and that decisions affecting their welfare should be based on evidence and ethics”.

Mr Elliot said: “We are calling on all parties and candidates for the 2021 elections to the Scottish Parliament to prioritise animal welfare in the next parliamentary session.

“OneKind’s vision is a world in which animals are recognised and respected as individuals and treated with kindness, empathy, dignity and compassion.

“That is why we’re asking parties and candidates to make decisions based on evidence and ethics and recognise animals as sentient, individual beings, through a series of animal welfare commitments.”


Citizens Advice helped more than 90,000 since lockdown

More than 450,000 individual pieces of advice have been issued by Citizens Advice Scotland.

Citizens Advice: More than 90,000 people were helped.

The Citizens Advice network in Scotland has helped more than 92,000 people in the six months since the UK went into lockdown, according to the organisation.

More than 450,000 individual pieces of advice have been issued by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to 92,276 people since the coronavirus lockdown came into effect on March 23.

Citizens Advice Bureaux were only allowed to reopen for face-to-face advice for vulnerable clients in August, following Scottish Government approval, with the majority of advice issued over the phone or sought online.

With the furlough scheme expected to end in October, CAS said they expect the demand for services to increase in the coming months, as they anticipate rising unemployment and personal debt.

ADVERT

CAS deputy chief executive Anne Lavery said the increased demand for support during the pandemic showed the importance of funding free, impartial and confidential advice.

Ms Lavery said: “This data shows the absolutely staggering work Citizens Advice Bureaux are doing in local communities across the country during this crisis, helping people recognise their rights and access money they are entitled to.

“To do that – while the country went through unprecedented levels of change in how we work and live our lives – shows how resilient local Citizens Advice Bureaux are.

“The network has been there for people for 80 years and hasn’t missed a beat during the pandemic.

ADVERT

“We know demand for advice will likely grow even further as the furlough scheme winds down and people face growing unemployment and rising debts. That’s why we think it should be extended in certain sectors and part of the UK to protect people.

“It’s also vital that Citizens Advice Bureaux are properly funded and protected going forward – people need them now more than ever.”

Figures released last week also revealed the vast majority of Scots seeking help from Citizens Advice Bureaux for employment and housing issues have never used the service before.

First-time visitors to a bureau are more likely to be younger, employed and owner-occupiers than those attending before the coronavirus lockdown, according to the latest CAS monthly report.


‘Almost half of Scots in favour of minimum unit pricing’

Alcohol sales dropped by 5% since the implementation of the policy in 2018.

Minimum pricing: 'Most Scots in favour.'

Almost half of Scots are in favour of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol, a new survey suggests.

Analysis by Public Health Scotland of the 2019 Scottish social attitudes survey found 49.8% of the 1,022 people asked supported the measure, compared to 27.6% who did not.

Coming into effect in 2018, the measure meant each unit of alcohol must cost at least 50p in a bid to raise the price of high-strength drinks to tackle alcoholism north of the border.

Another study released in June showed alcohol sales had dropped by 5% since the implementation of the policy.

ADVERT

Dr Karl Ferguson, the public health intelligence adviser at Public Health Scotland, said: “These findings from the Scottish social attitudes survey show the public is generally more in favour of MUP than against, and that attitudes appear to have grown more favourable over the timeframe during which the policy was implemented.”

Public perception of the legislation has changed from 2015 when 41.3% of 1288 people were in favour and 33.4% opposed, the figures show.

A report published alongside the findings suggested the shift in public attitude could be to do with a deeper understanding of what the policy means for individuals, or perceived negative effects that did not come to fruition.

Dr Ferguson added: “A related possible explanation is that some concerns the public may have held prior to implementation have not been observed.
“For example, MUP did not increase prices across the board in the off- and on- trades, as it only directly influences the pricing of a minority of off-trade products.

ADVERT

“This study is one of a number in the ongoing evaluation of MUP which develops our understanding of the wider impact of the policy’s implementation.”

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick welcomed the findings.

He said: “This latest report showing increasing public support for MUP is very encouraging.

“We know that it will take longer for the impact of reduced consumption to feed through into health-related statistics but I am more convinced than ever that MUP is one of the main drivers in reducing alcohol harms.”

FitzPatrick also claimed the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which has been opposed by the Scottish Government, could undermine MUP and other public health legislation.


Covid-19: What is the coronavirus alert level system?

The Covid Alert Levels system was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a televised address to the nation back in May.

Pixabay
Covid-19:Threat level on the rise.

After a few months of respite over the summer, the threat of Covid-19 is rising again.

The UK’s four chief medical officers warned the transmission rate is rising, meaning much tougher social distancing measures could be on the way.

But what is the alert system and how does it work?

What is the alert system?

ADVERT

The Covid Alert Levels system was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a televised address to the nation back in May. The system is similar to that used to establish the terrorist threat and run by the recently established Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).

It has five tiers from level one to five based on the spread of Covid-19 through the country.

What is the Joint Biosecurity Centre?

The JBC was set up a few months into the pandemic to provide real-time analysis of Covid-19 outbreaks and the rate of spread at both a local and national level.

ADVERT

It advises on specific actions which can be taken to manage rising numbers of infections, such as closing schools or businesses, as well as the risk posed by travellers arriving from abroad.

It also provides evidence to the chief medical officers of each of the UK’s four countries, allowing them to decide if a change of alert level is necessary.

How does the alert system work?

The country’s alert level is determined primarily by the virus’s reproduction rate or “R rate” – the average number of people that will contract Covid-19 from an infected person.

It is also based on the overall number of coronavirus cases.
The higher the level, the stricter measures the Government is likely to impose in a bid to get the virus under control.

What are the different levels?

Level one means Covid-19 is no longer known to be in the UK and the only action should be “routine international monitoring”, while level two is when the number of cases and transmission is low and “no or minimal” restrictions are required.

ADVERT

When the scheme was launched, the country was at level four, which means a “Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

It was reduced down to level three on June 19, meaning the epidemic is still in general circulation but restrictions can be eased.

Level five is when transmission is high or rising but also when there is a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed.

Why has the threat level been upgraded again?

A second wave, potentially as lethal as the first, is imminent according to the UK’s most senior scientists.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, said on Monday the UK could be facing 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 by mid-November unless rapid action is taken.

He and England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned Britons to brace for a “tough six months” as the virus might spread more easily during the colder weather.

Are we are facing another national lockdown?

The Government has yet to announce what the change in threat level means for the general public, but it will be hugely reluctant to impose the same level of restrictions we saw imposed in March.

Boris Johnson is due to chair meetings of Cabinet and the Cobra emergency committee – including the leaders of the devolved administrations – on Tuesday to consider what action to take.

Earlier on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to guarantee pubs in England would be allowed to open this weekend, but said the Government was “determined” to keep schools open during the next phase of the response.


‘Serious moment’ for Scotland as coronavirus spreads

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a further 255 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that urgent action is needed as coronavirus once again begins to spread throughout Scotland.

At the Scottish Government’s briefing on Monday, the First Minister confirmed a further 255 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours – representing 6.3% of newly tested individuals.

Sturgeon warned that “Covid is spreading again in Scotland” and that “doing nothing in the face of this rapid spread is not an option”.

She said that if left unchecked, it will lead to more cases, more people in hospital and more deaths.

ADVERT

Sturgeon said: “This is a serious moment again for the country.”

New measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus will be in place in the coming days.

Sturgeon said: “In my view, further and urgent action will now be needed to stop the increase in the number of cases.

“I and my advisers have spent the weekend immersed in discussion and analysis, looking at a variety of options and considering carefully the impact that we judged these would have.”

ADVERT

The new measures will include financial support for those who are low paid and are asked to self-isolate. Consideration is also ongoing about bringing in large fines for those who break self-isolation rules.

While the measures are still being considered, the First Minister said they are “very close to a point of decision”.

The First Minister also confirmed there have been no further deaths linked to Covid-19.

The official death toll in Scotland stands at 2505, however weekly figures where coronavirus has been registered on the death certificate now stands at 4236.

There are 73 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of ten in 24 hours. Of these patients, eight are in intensive care.

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government endorsed the warning of UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

At a UK Government press briefing earlier on Monday, Sir Patrick warned that Britain could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October – leading to 200 deaths a day a month later if the current rate of infection is not halted.

ADVERT

Sir Patrick said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.

He said: “At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.”

Sturgeon earlier said it was “frustrating” a Cobra meeting had not yet been set up, however during her briefing it was announced the gathering would go ahead on Tuesday.

Ahead of speaking to Boris Johnson on Monday afternoon, the First Minister said: “In that call, I will impress upon the Prime Minister my view that we need decisive, urgent and as far as possible given our individual responsibilities, coordinated action across the UK.

“I will be clear that I am willing to allow a bit more time for four-nations discussions to take place before making final decisions for Scotland, but I will be equally clear that the urgency of this situation will mean that we cannot, must not and will not wait too long.”

UK-wide Covid crisis talks to take place on Tuesday

The First Minister had expressed frustrations over delays in a Cobra meeting being scheduled.

Getty
Cobra: Boris Johnson will chair a meeting, which will include Nicola Sturgeon, on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister will chair UK-wide crisis talks on coronavirus on Tuesday morning with new restrictions expected this week.

Boris Johnson is due to speak to Nicola Sturgeon later on Monday, the First Minister having expressed frustrations over delays in a Cobra meeting taking place.

Sturgeon and the leaders of the UK’s other devolved nations have been calling for a meeting of the emergency committee to coordinate the next steps as Covid-19 continues to spread.

The Scottish Government learned of the plans during discussions with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on Saturday.

ADVERT

Initially at her daily briefing on Monday, Sturgeon said: “It is frustrating that we still don’t have a precise time for that”.

However, once it was confirmed it would take place on Tuesday morning, she said: ” I think that’s very positive and I’m pleased about that.”

At the briefing, a further 255 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours were confirmed – representing 6.3% of newly tested individuals.

Sturgeon warned that “Covid is spreading again in Scotland” and that “doing nothing in the face of this rapid spread is not an option”.


UK faces 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by mid-October

Sir Patrick Vallance said this could lead to 200 deaths a day a month later.

The UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October unless action is taken, the government’s chief scientific adviser warned.

Sir Patrick Vallance said this could lead to 200 deaths a day by November, as he and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty held a televised briefing on Monday.

The UK Government experts believe the epidemic is currently doubling every seven days, with cases likely to soar without necessary measures.

New restrictions are expected to be announced over the coming days in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

ADVERT

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other UK devolved leaders are due to have calls with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, ahead of a Cobra meeting on Tuesday.

“At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days,” Sir Patrick said.

“If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days… if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.

“Fifty thousands cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day.”

ADVERT

He said changes are already in place, which should “slow” the rate of infection.

Sir Patrick added: “The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.

‘Action required’: Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance provided an update on Covid. Getty

“There are already things in place which are expected to slow that, and to make sure that we do not enter this exponential growth and end up with the problems that you would predict as a result of that.

“That requires speed, it requires action and it requires enough in order to be able to bring that down.”

Prof Whitty added there was now “significant rates of transmission” of coronavirus in parts of the UK.

He said: “What we’ve seen is a progression where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rates right down across the country, first we saw very small outbreaks, maybe associated with a workplace or another environment, then we’ve seen more localised outbreaks which have got larger over time, particularity in the cities.

“And now what we’re seeing is a rate of increase across the great majority of the country. It is going at different rates but it is now increasing.

ADVERT

“And what we’ve found is, as we go through in time, anywhere that was falling is now moving over to beginning to rise and then the rate of rise continues in an upwards direction.

“So, this is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problem.”

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government’s justice secretary, described Sir Patrick and Prof Whitty’s Covid update as “sobering”.

He added: “Our own data in Scotland also showing concerning trends. Simply put, doing nothing is not an option.

“As Jeane Freeman said this morning, we will be guided by science and take action necessary to save lives.”

You're up to date

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