Exclusive: shock figures reveal Scotland’s prisons NOT included in Observer report on state of UK’s (sic) ‘brutal’ prisons

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(c) Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

From the Observer today:

‘Observer analysis of inspection reports shows two in five jails are unsafe and inadequate conditions prevail in over two-thirds. The scale of the crisis engulfing Britain’s (sic) prisons can be revealed, after an Observer investigation found that two-thirds are providing inmates with inadequate conditions or unacceptable treatment. An analysis of hundreds of inspections covering 118 institutions found that a staggering 68% are now providing unsatisfactory standards in at least one respect, with two in five jails deemed to be unacceptably unsafe.’

It’s only when we get down to the ninth paragraph that we read:

‘The Observer investigation found that in the most recent inspections of adult prisons in England and Wales, 80 out of the 118 jails examined were providing insufficient or poor standards in at least one area.’

and that this might be due to a 30% staffing cut since 2010 under Home Secretary, Theresa May.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/17/uk-brutal-prisons-failing-violence-drugs-gangs

I know, we’re all used to the conflation of UK with England but surely the ‘intelligent’ Observer could get it right? As you’ll see, I’m ‘sic’ (Latin for ‘thus was it written’; prætentious ?) of pointing it out.

But, wait a minute Jacobus, surely Scottish prisons are even rougher and proud of it (?) but, no, it seems we have another sign of the softening of the Scots like the lower homicide, domestic abuse and knife-handling rates that I’ve reported here. See this from David Strang (sounds like a strongman), HM Inspector Prisons (Scotland):

‘As Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS), I am responsible for the inspection and monitoring of the conditions in prison and the treatment of prisoners. The general conditions in prisons have improved in recent years, as old prisons have been replaced or refurbished and new prisons have been built. The majority of prisons have modern facilities and residential accommodation of a suitable standard.  Across the 15 prisons in Scotland, prisoners have generally told me that they feel safe. It is a fundamental requirement of a well-run prison that people who live and work there should feel confident in its stability and order. We should never take for granted the good order that is maintained in Scotland’s prisons and that they are in general stable and secure environments.’ 

https://www.prisonsinspectoratescotland.gov.uk/publications/hm-chief-inspector-prisons-scotland-annual-report-2016-2017?page=1

I met an older (even) Jock (it’s not racist when another Jock says it) yesterday, who was keen to have a wee rant about how the younger generation don’t remember and take pride in the old fighting Scots regiments and their willingness to die in battle at twice the rate of those soft English regiments. He’d be devastated by this news.

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BBC Scotland radio audiences plummet

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In a survey of radio audiences, from July to December 2017, by media.info, BBC Radio Scotland audience figures have fallen from 1.1 million per week in 1999 to 839 000 at the end of 2017 and, critically, are falling so fast and so steeply, that they are in real danger of falling so low that the licence fee becomes even more indefensible.

No doubt this decline has multiple causes but the outrageous bias against the SNP and independence featuring daily on Good Morning Scotland and Call Kaye, must surely be playing a part.

Also, these figures are extremely generous in that someone who listens for at least (only) five minutes (per week?) is counted as a ‘listener’.

https://media.info/radio/stations/bbc-radio-scotland/listening-figures

Glasgow Herrod exposes NHS [Scotland] waiting time scandal as only 1.39% of staff have no [free] parking space yet!

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Glasgow Herrod owner, J K Herrod

In the Herrod today:

‘More than 2,000 NHS staff await parking permits. The Scottish Government has been urged to carry out a national review of NHS parking and transport after it emerged more than 2 000 NHS workers are waiting on parking permits. A total of 2,247 NHS workers across five different health boards currently do not have permission to park at hospitals and health centres.’

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16029524.More_than_2_000_NHS_staff_await_parking_permits/

There were 161 329 people employed by NHS Scotland in 2016.

https://news.gov.scot/news/latest-nhs-workforce-statistics

Unlike in England & Wales, nearly all get free parking spaces, as do patients. See:

NHS England outperforms NHS Scotland……in making huge profits (>£120 million!) from car parking including that from disabled patients. SNP Government abolished charges in all but three, where they could not do so, in 2008

Well done, the Herrod, investigative journalism at it’s best, talking something pointless to power!

This SNP government, letting 1.39% of NHS staff wait for free parking permits, makes my blood boil! Get me an ambulance! If it’s a minute late, I’ll be writing to the Horrid unless they stop me with their endless SNP treatment procedures. Making me better, I hate them!

Next week in the Herrod:

The Scottish Government has been urged to carry out a national review of NHS parking and transport after it emerged that more than 160 000 staff, all patients and visitors, get free parking spaces, at the taxpayer’s expense!

Hunterston to challenge Norway’s deep quaysides for decommissioning work

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(c) raconteur.net

In Energy Voice yesterday:

‘A new company based in Scotland will be the first to offer a new facility in Ayrshire for North Sea decommissioning work. CessCon Decom plans to start handling oil and gas infrastructure at Peel Port’s Hunterston site as early as the first quarter of 2019. Peel Ports is transforming Hunterston into a “decom campus” capable of delivering the full range of dismantling, recycling and asset management services. UK ports have been at a disadvantage to Norwegian counterparts which boast “ultra-deep water” quaysides capable of accommodating heavy lift vessels. But with water depths of 78ft alongside its main jetty, Hunterston will be able to challenge Norway on that front.’

https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/163785/exclusive-first-decommissioning-specialist-signs-ayrshire-yard/

This comes after another report on decommissioning in Scotland:

Aberdeen-based oil rig decommissioning firm creates 200 new jobs and pioneers more economical technique

However, it’s fair to say that we need much greater investment in this market to reap the massive income already known to be there for decommissioning work. See this prediction

‘The estimated bill for decommissioning on the UK Continental Shelf is £17.6 billion between 2016 and 2025, says Oil & Gas UK. It places a £2-billion price tag on decommissioning costs for 2017 alone.’ 

https://www.raconteur.net/business/decommissioning-the-north-sea-oil-and-gas-rigs-a-great-opportunity-for-the-uk

Needless to say, an independent nation would be making sure it got a decent share of this work. I doubt it’s high on the agenda of the Tories in Westminster.

‘North Sea full of opportunity’

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The demise of the North Sea’s oil and gas bounty has been a major plank in Unionist attempts to undermine the idea of an independent Scotland. Like many Unionist arguments it’s a myth.

With Neptune Energy’s deal to buy Engie’s E&P business, Energy Voice reported yesterday:

 ‘The North Sea is still opportunity-rich for investors, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said today.’

The OGUK chief executive said:

‘Having an enterprising company like Neptune growing with the North Sea at the heart of its business is also good news for the future of the UK oil and gas industry. Our industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, energy security and provides billons of pounds to the UK economy. Its continued success requires investment like this.’

https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/north-sea/163850/neptune-engie-deal-shows-north-sea-full-opportunity/

Remember, this is merely another confirmation of the long-term prospects for an independent Scotland’s revenue. See, these for more:

Survey of oil industry chiefs shows confidence in North Sea doubling in one year

More evidence that North Sea oil has years of wealth generation still in it.

New technology to extend life of North Sea oilfields. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated

An Edinburgh University Professor says North Sea oil and gas has only ten years left while the Wall Street Journal describes it as an ‘oil hot spot’ and Oil and Gas UK doesn’t recognise his figures. Who’s right?

An additional 900 million barrels in the North Sea by raising recovery factor from only 42%

‘Oil Giants Still Love North Sea’

There are even more if you search the blog for ‘North’.

Nearly 100 Scottish contracts awarded by Swedish wind-farm owners

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Vattenfall, the Swedish owners of several windfarms and the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) project off the north-east coast say they are: ‘committed to maximising the benefits the project can bring to the north-east and Scotland.’

So far, they have awarded nearly 100 contracts to local companies including a ‘significant deal’ with Peterhead harbour. There will also be a £3 million community investment fund for the North-east.

https://www.energyvoice.com/otherenergy/163803/vattenfall-aberdeen-wind-farm-development-brought-nearly-100-scottish-contracts/

You may be thinking it would be better if the project was owned by a Scottish company, but I wonder if it would. Many of our top executives and board members are privately educated, self-centred and incompetent, with bonuses and dividends the only things in their minds. Maybe I’m being naïve here, but I wonder if Swedish business culture is not a bit more progressive, long term thinking and consensual in terms of owner-worker and community relationships.

Billions to flow to UK Treasury as Scottish oil prices reach nearly $65 per barrel

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From Bloomberg in Energy Voice today:

‘Brent for April settlement climbed 26 cents to trade at $64.59 in the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.’

https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/163847/oil-set-first-weekly-gain-month-us-dollar-weakens/

On 6th February 2018, I was able to write:

‘North Sea oil tax haul gushes to £1bn as crude recovers. Higher prices, increased production and lower costs drive revenue turn-round’

Pretty much ignored by the Scottish media other than reporting on BP profits, the Financial Times, free from a constant obsession with Scottish independence offers us useful evidence. They had more to say:

‘A £1bn boost to the Treasury will be good news for the Philip Hammond, the chancellor, who will give an update on the government’s budget in the spring statement in mid-March. HMRC declined to comment…. Production in the North Sea is also bucking the recent decline. Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy, expects it to average 1.9 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2018, its highest since 2010. BP last week announced two new discoveries in the North Sea and reiterated its ambition to double production from the region to 200,000 barrels a day by 2020….’

https://www.ft.com/content/995ad5c8-09c5-11e8-839d-41ca06376bf2

Add to the above 1.9 million barrels anticipated from the North Sea, the oil from the new fields West of Shetland and we can expect well over 2 million barrels per day or 730 million per year. So, total revenue (730 000 000 x 65) for the producers could be at least $47 billion. With production costs nearing $12 per barrel according to the BP CE, profits of around $40 billion per year can surely generate tax revenue of several billion.

https://www.oilandgaspeople.com/news/15098/bp-chief-says-north-sea-costs-are-15-per-barrel/

I look forward to the chancellor’s statement.