Comment: Citizen of the Year award

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Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of the job of being an MSP is having the opportunity to meet with people who make outstanding contributions to our local communities across Scotland.

Here in East Renfrewshire we have no shortage of community champions and I’m delighted to see that local residents once again have the chance to put forward nominations for their Citizen of the Year.

The 2015 East Renfrewshire Provost Award has been launched to recognise the work of inspirational individuals in the area.

Previous winners of the Provost award include Rena McGuire for her tireless voluntary work in Barrhead and Lauren Cosgrove, a pupil at St. John’s Primary who set up her own charity and has raised thousands of pounds for critically ill children.

Rena and Lauren are both fantastic ambassadors for East Renfrewshire and they should be very proud of their awards.

It’s important to celebrate the achievements of those who give back to our communities, so if you know of someone who deserves recognition please take a few minutes to nominate them for East Renfrewshire’s Citizen of the Year. The deadline of 21 October is fast approaching so make sure and get your nominations in on time to East Renfrewshire Council. Full details of the nomination process are available online at the council’s website: www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/provost_award.

Crime rates at 41 year low

The latest figures on recorded crime have been released with some very encouraging statistics in the West of Scotland. Recorded crime has fallen for the eighth year in and row and is now at its lowest level for 41 years.

In East Renfrewshire, crimes of handling an offensive weapon have fallen by 82 per cent since 2006-07 – the third largest decrease in the whole of Scotland. Since 2007 an additional 1,000 police officers have been delivered by the SNP government and, as well as enforcing legislation, the No Knives, Better Lives campaign is educating young people about the risks and consequences of carrying a knife.

Between 2006-07 and 2013-14 the number of young people under 19 convicted of handling an offensive weapon fell by 80 per cent – from 812 to 165. East Renfrewshire now has one of the lowest rates of recorded knife crime in the whole of Scotland.

These encouraging figures are a testament to the hard work of police and all of those who support them in keeping our communities safe.

However, we cannot and will not be complacent, which is why the Scottish Government will continue to work constructively with law enforcement agencies to further reduce crime and improve public safety.