Thursday, 22 September 2005
Speaking during Thursday's SNP conference debate on 'silent witnesses',
SNP candidate for the Cathcart by-election, Maire Whitehead, has
condemned the Labour Party for putting presentation before delivery.
Commenting Ms Whitehead said:
"This week some disturbing new figures emerged which exposed the true state of Scotland's criminal justice system.
"Thanks to Freedom of Information we discovered that in the six month
period, October 2004-March 2005, only 5% of Police officers who were
called to Glasgow District court gave evidence. Out of almost 1000
officers called to court only 47 gave evidence.
"In Edinburgh almost half a million pounds was wasted when police
officers who turned up to court to give evidence were then not needed -
that's enough money to put 23 extra police officers on to our streets.
"And when a police officer did manage to give evidence the average time
they took was just 21 minutes. Why do we need to have so many officers
cited who do not then need to give evidence?
"We need a system that allows police evidence to be received and noted
by the court, so police officers do not have to waste their time or our
money by appearing at court unnecessarily. That is what the police want
and the system needs, but Labour has failed to deliver.
"Furthermore, in a revealing comment on the Glasgow report,
Strathclyde's Chief Superintendent Blair called the figures "disturbing", an understatement I say. But what I find most disturbing
is Labour's response.
"They say they are sorting the problem out, but eight years into a
Labour government they must now take responsibility for the problem.
"And on the day the figures emerged, my Labour opponent in Cathcart and
his party's Justice Minister, were holding a photo opportunity and
announcing a 10-point plan to tackle crime. It was nothing more than a
"While they talk the talk about tackling the blades and booze culture,
they are failing to support a successful youth complex in Castelmilk. A
magnificent initiative that has been running now for some 11 years for
young people from 12-25 years of age. This complex provides real
alternatives for young people.
"When it was closed for a 2 week period during the summer, the police
reported that crime in the area of Castlemilk and Cathcart had gone up!
"Instead of building on success and making a difference for these young
people, Labour threaten to remove its funding, close the centre and
throw the young people of Castlemilk back onto the streets.
"The great irony is that the tough on crime mantra that the Labour
Party continually spouts is now clearly shown up for what it is - a
cheap sound bite; all slogan no substance.
"The people of Cathcart and Castlemilk deserve better than Labour's hollow words on crime and security.
"This is the party that would rather waste £10 billion on a piece of
plastic than invest the same cash in putting more police on our streets
and supporting successful alternatives to criminal activity by renewing
"In my part of Glasgow, the money Labour is throwing away on ID cards -
your money and my money - could put an extra 40 police onto the streets
of Cathcart and Castlemilk, keeping our streets safer.
"Labour's crime policy is in chaos. They are in power, but quite clearly not in control.
"But next week the voters of Cathcart and Livingston have the
opportunity to make a difference - and herald a new, more effective
approach to crime.
"They can make a difference by voting SNP."