Catch up on all the justice sector headlines you may have missed this month...
New Scottish Police Chief Constable ‘to be in place by end of 2018’
The Chief Constable of Police Scotland will be in place by the end of the year, with the job first being advertised in the summer, it has been revealed.
Scottish Police Authority Chairwoman Susan Deacon said that the successful candidate would be recommended to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson in the autumn.
In the meantime, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone will remain in charge of the force.
£6m fire station opened in Basingstoke
A £6 million fire station has opened its doors in Basingstoke and has been dubbed a “modern station for a modern era”.
The new building features increased vehicle capacity and improved access to enable quicker response times. There’s also an enhanced training facility.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Councillor Chris Carter said: “This prestigious event marks the dawn of a new age of firefighting – and a new era for the service.
“The bespoke training facilities and focus on community engagement shows that Hampshire is at the forefront of modern firefighting.
“This new station will be one of the jewels in the crown of what is, I believe, one of the best fire and rescue services in the country.”
Scottish Courts to launch digital evidence platform
The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has announced the launch of the first phase of its online case tracker platform ‘Civil Online’ in March.
The platform will allow simple procedure claims and responses to be made digitally and enable claimants, respondents and their representatives to track the case and see details such as the date and time of any hearings and a description of any documents submitted.
Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said, “This is an important step on our journey towards electronic case handling. Simple Procedure was designed as a court process to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve civil disputes where the value is less than £5k.”
MP calls for members of the Armed Forces to wear uniforms in public
An MP has said that members of the Armed Forces should be encouraged to wear their uniforms as they go about their day-to-day lives, to raise awareness and recognition.
Citing the USA as an example of a country where this is already common, Tory MP Stephen Kerr said that it would help raise the profile of the Armed Forces.
His call was backed by Lib Dem Jamie Stone, who said the point was “extremely well made”.
Welsh police force is first in the UK to use VR training
Gwent Police in Wales has become the first force in the UK to use virtual reality (VR) technology to train officers.
The technology is being used to train officers to deal with various situations they may encounter on the streets and to test their reactions.
“Virtual reality provides the ability of a safe learning environment, which promotes open conversations about opportunities for options for action, investigation and safeguarding,” Superintendent Vicki Townsend told Digital Trends.
Military mental health helpline launched
A new helpline offering forces personnel round-the-clock support for mental health issues has been launched.
The Military Mental Health Helpline, which can be called on 0800 323 4444, is being funded by part of the £20 million announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, which will be used to pay for support services over the next decade.
"Every hour of every day our safety, security and way of life are protected by our courageous Armed Forces personnel,” said Mr Williamson.
"They are always there for us - often risking life and limb and making huge personal sacrifices - and we must be there for them in their own time of need.”
Video courts to be used in UK ‘within weeks’
The launch of a new pilot scheme means that the first video courts will be used in the UK within weeks.
Video hearings for tax appeal cases will take place via the web, with all participants logging in from a location of their choice. During the pilot, a judge will be in the courtroom, but no-one else needs to be on court premises.
The move comes as part of the Government’s £1 billion drive to modernise the justice system.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue to carry pet oxygen masks in every engine
Shropshire Fire and Rescue has become one of the first services to have pet oxygen masks in every engine.
The specially-designed masks will mean that pets who breathe in smoke during house fires will have a much better chance of surviving. They have already been put to good use, saving the life of a 15-year-old tabby as well as coming to the rescue of sheep and lambs.