Highly dangerous ‘pre-drinking’ less common in Scotland than in England or Wales


Further evidence that Scotland is no more the global drunk, can be found in:

‘The Role of Sex and Age on Pre-drinking: An Exploratory International Comparison of 27 Countries’ published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2019, 1–8 (link below).


With excellent eyesight or with a magnifying glass, you can see in the above graph that the percentage of survey respondents who pre-drink in Scotland is slightly lower than in England and notably lower than in Wales or, indeed, than in many of our European neighbours.

The authors explain just why pre-drinking is such a worry:

‘Pre-drinking (also known as pre-loading, pre-partying or pre-gaming) is most commonly defined as the consumption of alcohol in domestic settings prior to attending licensed premises (Foster and Ferguson, 2014). Often motivated by the higher cost of alcohol in licensed venues, many people also choose to pre-drink to achieve rapid intoxication, or to facilitate socializing with friends (Foster and Ferguson, 2014; Miller et al., 2016; O’Neil et al., 2016; Labhart and Kuntsche, 2017). The practice has become an issue of increasing global concern due to evidence linking pre-drinking with higher levels of alcohol use and intoxication (Hughes et al., 2008; Reed et al., 2011; Labhart et al., 2013), and increased risk of adverse alcohol-related consequences such as blackouts, assault, injury or arrest (Pedersen and LaBrie, 2007; Hughes et al., 2008; Paves et al., 2012; Labhart et al., 2013; Miller et al., 2016).

When the results are broken down by gender, you can see (below) that Scottish women seem to be no less likely to pre-drink than English women:





Despite BBC/Tory stories, serious attacks on Scottish emergency workers fell by 35% in only 5 years


Based on a ‘letter’ to a Tory MSP!

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request published today, TuS can reveal a much-welcomed and dramatic fall in attacks on emergency workers, in line with overall crime reduction in Scotland after more than a decade of SNP-rule. See:



This makes you really wonder where Tory MSP Liam Kerr got his ‘letter’ from in 2018:

‘A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day. The actual number of incidents is likely to be higher, as more serious attacks are not included. The figures were revealed in a letter to Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr.’


Good journalism is based on reliable sources. As often before BBC Scotland seem not to have seen their own editorial guidelines:


We should try to witness events and gather information first-hand.  Where this is not possible, we should talk to first -hand sources and, where necessary, corroborate their evidence.  We should be reluctant to rely on a single source.  If we do rely on a single source, a named on-the-record source is always preferable.


Why Scotland has 8% of the population but 0% of the UK’s worst places for child poverty



Though today’s report from End Child Poverty shows that Glasgow does have one of the ‘top’ parliamentary constituencies for child poverty, before taking account of housing costs, Scotland has no entries at all when housing costs, as they would be in actuality, are considered:



Why is the situation regarding child poverty a bit better here?

In 2018, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation had this to say about the Scottish Government’s intentions to reduce child poverty:

‘The Scottish Government’s commitment to building a social security system that has dignity and respect at its core and offering routes into employment for those currently excluded from the labour market, could change the family incomes and prospects of thousands of children for the better.’


Differences with non-Scottish Parts 1: Less vulnerable to benefits cuts


‘The IFS found that low-income families in Scotland currently have a higher proportion of their income coming from earnings than low-income families in some (but not all) parts of the UK, so have a lower proportion of income that is vulnerable to benefit cuts compared with some of the hardest-hit regions of the UK.’ (Hood and Waters,2017). 2


Differences with non-Scottish Parts 2: Fewer large families


‘In addition, one key change to UK benefit policy – the two-child limit on tax credits and Universal Credit– will particularly hit families with three or more children born after 6 April 2017. The IFS analysis found that Scotland has proportionally fewer families with three or more children than elsewhere in the UK, and around half the proportions found in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands.’ (Hood and Waters, 2017). 3


Differences with non-Scottish Parts 3 and 4: Higher increases in median income and less relative poverty


Note: The predicted dramatic increases above neglect impact of further welfare devolution to SNP Government:


‘Many of the key drivers of changes in poverty have been felt UK-wide. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has supported some research that showed a clear rise in Scottish median incomes relative to the rest of the UK from around 2003/04 and a relatively bigger improvement in the relative poverty rate from 2004/05.’ (Bailey, 2014).


Persistent poverty refers to children who have been living in relative poverty in three out of the last four years – a measure of the number of children who have been in poverty for a prolonged period of time.

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 5 and 6: Stronger decreases in poverty rates and increases in employment


‘The research identified strong decreases in poverty rates for the working-age population compared with the rest of the UK, alongside improving employment rates, especially for families without children. Over the period from 2000/04 to 2008/12, Scotland saw a bigger reduction in out-of-work families compared with the rest of the UK and similar growth as the rest of the UK in ‘intermediate work intensity’ (‘partly working’ families). 8


Differences with non-Scottish Parts 7 and 8: Affordable rents and mortgage costs


‘The analysis also pointed to more affordable rent and mortgage costs relative to income than in England, with social rents being 20–25% lower in Scotland by 2012/13. As a result, poverty after housing costs, compared with before housing costs, rose by a smaller amount than in England.’ 8


SNP Government Initiatives


‘In the coming months, the Scottish Government will launch two strategies that could make a crucial difference for our society. The first is an action plan on halving the disability employment gap, and the second is an action plan on the gender pay gap that is due to be published by the end of the year. This could be transformational for tackling poverty.’ 9



TODAY, we hear of the ongoing commitment of the SNP government, despite the Westminster constraints, to go beyond words and to act:


‘Vulnerable families are set to benefit from new funding to support households in financial hardship. Seven projects aimed at tackling child poverty will receive a total of £450,000. The money is a part of the ‘Every Child, Every Chance’ Innovation Fund, which is jointly supported by the Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation. The fund aims to support innovative approaches which could have an impact on reducing child poverty by 2030. The projects range from job training and a befriending service, to school-based mentoring and support for lone parents. One of the successful projects is Stepwell, a social business based in Inverclyde, which provides support to people in the local community with health and finance issues as well as training and employment opportunities.’




Reporting Scotland tell a tale of crime IN ENGLAND as if it were in Scotland when IT IS NOT


What idiot wrote this report? It makes no bloody sense at all! I don’t know if I can go on.

Reporting Scotland opened last night with the scary news:

‘With more than 160 organised crime gangs in Scotland, [UK] law enforcement agencies warn the threat is staggering and call for more money to stop the criminals.’

It’s a cracker of a sentence where the two parts mean little together. The first part is about Scotland, yet the second part of the same sentence is based on only loosely connected developments in England. It turns out that the number of gangs in Scotland is falling, that only 160 or maybe 117, out of 4 500 (3.5% or less), are in Scotland, that they are rarely using firearms and that the above agency is a UK agency anxious about ‘staggering’ increases in gang activity in England.

And, late addition:

If you’re still there for the main report, you hear, a bit surprisingly:

‘Police say the number of organised crime groups in Scotland is falling.’

What, really? Why is that not the news then? How much? We never hear.

Then, after a reminder of the Lyons and the Daniel’s car chase case, we’re off into an extended report about the UK National Crime Agency’s estimate that there are 181 000 members of organised crime groups ‘throughout the country.’

Wait, what? How many of them are in the 160 Scottish gangs? How many gangs are there in ‘the country?’ Which country? According to the BBC UK website 2 hours ago (17:00) there are ‘more than 4 500 groups with 37 000 members.’

Right, let’s just ignore the confusion about how many members there are. 4 500 gangs in the UK but only 160 in Scotland – 8% of the population but only 3.5% of the gangs? I blame the SNP!

We don’t hear how many members there are in Scotland but then Reevel Alderson tells us that there are 117 OCGs in Scotland. What eh? It was 160, just a minute ago.  What’s an OCG? Didn’t you watch Line of Duty? Organised crime groups! And, ‘Feuds between five of them pose a heightened risk of harm.’ Just 5? Just ‘between them?’ During the car chase film didn’t you say that they posed a risk to the members of the public? Yes, but….

Then, we hear that the NCA needs an extra £2.7 billion to match the criminals. So, are the gangs increasing in England? How much? No mention.

Then we get a lady, in England, telling us that it’s also about paedophilia and fraud before Reevel tells us in the story of a cocaine gang with a massive arsenal smashed by the police. Where? Must be England I suppose. But, but, then we get a senior police guy linking it to an unsubstantiated threat in Scotland.

I’m confused. Reevel’s heid must be bursting. Wasn’t it just one car chase and an assault on one criminal by others using machetes, in Glasgow? There were no civilians hurt. Do we, in ‘this country’ (Scotland) really need millions invested in automatic weapons when there are fewer gangs and they’re just using machetes, on each other?

Reporting Scotland sets a new standard. Like an earlier report on gangs, they just have to try to persuade Scots that things are just as bad here. See:

BBC News tries to spread knife crime crisis into Scotland to tell us: ‘You’re no different. Don’t get any ideas!’




Scottish hospitals saving more lives than ever before


(c) George Allison

Scottish hospital deaths fall by 14 % despite increased demand and rising crude mortality rates

 From the Information Services Division, NHS Scotland on 14th May 2019:

HSMR Hospital Standardised Mortality Rate at Scotland level has decreased by 14.0% between January to March 2014 (first quarter after new baseline) and October to December 2018. Unadjusted hospital mortality had been falling from a level consistently around 3% prior to the baseline period used to calculate the HSMR; however since the end of this baseline period crude rates have seen a slow increase, exhibiting clear seasonal patterns leading up to the most recent winter period (October 2017 to March 2018.’

Rising crude mortality rates



Crude mortality rates are increasing yet hospital deaths are falling? This can be taken as evidence of improved practice and outcomes for NHS Scotland. Against the odds, they are reducing mortality.

The above data and table show that the challenge faced by Scottish hospitals in terms of the underlying tendency to die of those being admitted has been pretty constant over the last ten years and has even been climbing again recently. On top of that, hospitals have faced significant increases, up to 43% in only 5 years, in the demand for treatment.

 Rising demand


The above table shows that the demand over the last five years has been increasing across a range of measures and, in terms of the number of people coming forward, has increased dramatically.

More complex and difficult conditions?

This is more difficult to demonstrate definitively but the notion is widely accepted. See this:

‘In Scotland we are living longer, healthier lives. But we want to remain healthier for longer and ensure that the benefits of longer, healthier lives are felt fairly by all sections of our society. This means that our health and social care services need to adapt to the challenges of a 21st century Scotland, to the issues of health inequality, increasing demand for services, multiple long-term conditions, complexity of care and resource pressures.’


So, I think we can say with some confidence that the 14% reduction in the Hospital Standardised Mortality Rate suggests evidence of a strong improving trend in Scottish hospitals. Over to you BBC Scotland.

Footnote: Why are crude mortality rates rising? Why are more Scots dying? Over to you Ruth.


Is NHS Scotland NOT wrongly or ‘rightly’ fining the sick and elderly?


See this in the Independent today on NHS England:

‘Vulnerable patients have been wrongly fined millions of pounds by the NHS for prescription fraud, the National Audit Office has found. One in three fines handed to the elderly, sick or people on benefits in the past five years has been overturned because recipients qualified for free treatment – meaning more than £188m in incorrect penalties. Critics said the mistakes, affecting tens of thousands of patients, showed the government’s austerity measures have led to a system “built on the presumption of guilt”.’


I’m not entirely shocked to read of this kind of thing after a decade and more of Tory mismanagement of NHS England and wider attacks on the concept of caring, but I thought I’d better check that NHS Scotland are not doing something similar, undermining my theory that we do things differently, more humanely here.

So, I had a good search but only found nurses overclaiming overtime, equipment theft from hospitals and, of course, dentists charging for jobs they didn’t do. Then I found this from BBC Scotland based on a FoI request in 2014:


Aha, BBC Scotland’s investigation team will have found some rich, preferably foreign, old folk who haven’t paid for treatment. Nope!

The report is indignant about the effects that fraud can have on the service:

‘People not getting the treatment they need, sometimes having to wait longer for that treatment, and that’s why it’s an important problem which needs to be tackled very seriously with an appropriate level of investment in that work.’

But, no mention at all of fraud by patients of the kind the Independent reported in England:

‘According to the FOI results, the most common types of fraud committed by NHS staff was working in another job while on sick leave or shifts not worked.’


As always, I welcome correction of my ‘facts.’