News & Blog


Message from Police Scotland

Police Scotland stands with our colleagues and the communities of London following the terrorist attack on Saturday 3 June 2017. This comes soon after the attack in Manchester, and other recent attacks abroad. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by these events. We will provide any assistance necessary to the Metropolitan Police Service.

While we understand that the public will clearly be appalled by these events, I would urge each and every member of our communities to remain united against extremism and hate.

Police Scotland will not tolerate any attempts to target any community by any misguided individual or group and will work with all of our partners to resolve any issues and address any concerns. Should anyone become a victim of, or witness to, any hate crime, they should contact the police and report the incident.

Please be assured that Police Scotland continues to work with partners at home and abroad to counter the threat from terrorism and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our communities.

Please be vigilant and if you suspect something is wrong then report it to the police. If you have any concerns or information about suspicious activity please contact the Police on 101, the UK Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency dial 999.

Police Scotland continues to dynamically review all safety and security plans and operations. An element of this includes ensuring our armed policing and specialist resources are appropriately deployed.

The UK threat level remains at Severe. We have no specific information that Scotland is at risk of attack and I would ask you to go about your business as normal, remaining alert but not alarmed.

Thank you for your continued support in keeping our communities safe.

Steve Johnson
Assistant Chief Constable


EaRN News & Updates

EaRN produces a bimonthly newsletter entitled EaRN News & Updates that contains stories and news articles on equality and rights issues in the city along with updates from our network.

If you would like to catch up on the latest newsletter you can view it here:

EaRN News & Updates – 04 May 2017

To subscribe to this newsletter please register your interest here.

If you would like us to include something in our next issue you can contact us at equalityandrights@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk.


Prezels and Beer in Berlin

Hi this is Matt (Equalities Ambassador). In a follow up to my previous blog post on Malaga, I have been off on my travels again, this time to Berlin the capital of Germany.

I stayed for five nights and I found that in general the public transport was fairly accessible for me as a wheelchair user, particularly the buses. Many of the underground/overground stations seem to have lifts but not all of them.

Berlin has many attractions and I felt that I barely scratched the surface, but here are some of the things I saw. There were several museums which are not only informative but also very accessible for wheelchair users, these include the DDR Museum, this is an interactive museum which focuses on the former communist East Germany. For example there is a reconstruction of a typical apartment that you can look around, and various exhibits about censorship, the education system, and the border with the west.

DDR Museum in Berlin

I also visited the Topography of Terror Museum, chronicling the crimes of the Nazi regime. This was a sobering experience. I was also able to visit a partially restored synagogue and Jewish Cultural Centre. The building was very beautiful and there was lots of information about Jewish life in the city.

I had the opportunity to meet up with a good friend of mine who I had been to university with. We went to Kruezberg, a very multi-cultural neighbourhood with a large Turkish community and a reputation for an alternative social scene. There is currently a lot of debate around gentrification around this area which I know is also an issue in Leith.

For a great view of the city pay a visit to the Reichstag which is the parliament building.

Finally I recommend the pretzels and beer as these were particular highlights of my trip to Berlin.

 

Matt Cresser
Equalities Ambassador

 


Brexit – are our rights protected?

 

Nada Shawa, one of our volunteer Equalities Ambassadors, attended a seminar along with another of our ambassadors Luke Padfield on Brexit and its implications for rights in March on behalf of EaRN. She has written a short piece about it below:

 

“This is a time that is ‘unprecedented” said Mr Per Johansson, Head of Office at the European Parliament Information Service in Edinburgh. This is what Mr Johansson stressed, during his talk at a seminar organised by the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, entitled ‘Brexit and its implications for rights,’ held on 27 March 2017. He continued, “this process is going to take longer than we imagine.”

After the UK had decided to leave the European Union on the 23 June 2016, we are only now waking up to the reality of what this means. Organisations around Scotland are working hard to ascertain the implications for what it means to them, and especially the work they hope to continue.

I attended the seminar on behalf of EaRN, along with many other organisations attending from various backgrounds, including those working in the area of refugees, and disability, among others.

Key speakers, in addition to Mr Per Johansson was Ms Swee Leng, the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Legal Education Foundation. Ms Leng presented an extremely interesting and comprehensive paper on the legal framework, once Article 50 had been triggered, which took place 29 March 2017. There was also a clear breakdown of the process of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ revealed on 30 March 2017.

Also attending was Mr Duncan Isles the Head of Human Rights at the Scottish Government. Mr Isles gave a brief talk about the implications of Brexit in Scotland.

Closing the seminar was organiser Ms Mhairi Snowden of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland. She gave everyone an opportunity the ask questions and engage fully in the discussion.

 

Nada Shawa
Equalities Ambassador

 


Brexit: rights, risks and responsibilities: what’s at stake for human rights in Scotland?

Luke Padfield, one of our volunteer Equalities Ambassadors, attended a seminar along with another of our ambassadors Nada Shawa on Brexit and its implications for rights at the end of March on behalf of EaRN. He has written a short piece about it below:

 

The event Brexit: rights, risks and responsibilities: what’s at stake for human rights in Scotland? Was attended by some 60 delegates from a variety of organisations. A relatively low turn out. The meeting began with a number of academics setting out what the legislative landscape looks like at the moment and how that landscape is likely to change as Brexit progresses. It is worth noting that nobody really knows how Brexit will affect the human rights landscape and a lot of what we were hearing represented the academics best guess based on their experience of legal change.

Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

The main point that everybody seemed to agree on was that as we exit the EU we will lose the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Discussion on this topic was qualified with the fact that the Charter only applies in situations that envoke EU law, however a number of rights such the right to data protection that are guaranteed by the Charter will be substantially weakened.

Employment, including Health and Safety and Equality

This thread was reiterated by all the speakers. That the loss of the Charter will not only mean the loss of the guarantees in areas like employment and equality that the Charter protects but that the removal of the Charter from UK law will mean that the other piece of legislation that guarantees rights in the UK, the European Convention on Human Rights, will be more vulnerable.

Environment

Also, in areas like human rights and the environment the loss of particular enforcement measures guaranteed by the EU system will mean that remedies may become soft. In this area human rights are procedural rather than substantive (i.e. there is no substantive right to a clean healthful environment). Rights in this area include access to justice and access to timely information and while these rights will still be guaranteed by other international obligations that the UK has (i.e. the Aarhus convention) the enforcement mechanisms supplied by our membership of the EU will be lost.

Round table discussion

In the round table discussion an interesting point was raised by a woman arguing from personal experience that the mental health act was illegal. She pointed out that if rights aren’t enforceable then they are useless. A panel member acknowledged what she was saying in terms of financial capacity to pursue a case but she insisted that even with legal aid support, if the right itself wasn’t enforceable in the court then it was still next to useless.

Next Steps

Much of the discussion focused on what Scotland could actually do to guarantee rights in the face of this change. There were some in attendance who welcomed the notion of a Scottish Bill of Rights but it was highlighted by the panel that the fact that many areas like employment are reserved matters and so the opportunity to establish new rights based laws are limited.

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping the Scottish Parliament from recognising a right to a healthy environment as health, environment and human rights are all within the competencies of the devolved legislature.

 

Luke Padfield
Equalities Ambassador

 


Buggy Off

Karen Sutherland is one of our Equalities Ambassadors and she also works for one of our network members Get2gether, and with them and Media Education has made a short film about an experience she had trying to get on a bus, called Buggy Off.

It is a thought-provoking, true story about life, attitude and buses written and directed by Get2gether’s ambassador Karen Sutherland.

It has screened before a few films in the Filmhouse and the Cameo as part of Disabled Access Weekend, and you can still watch it here or on the Get2gether Facebook page here.

#BuggyOff
#ChangingAttitudes