Letters: Why bigger is not always better when it comes to policing

I RETIRED as a superintendent from Grampian Police in 1993 after 30 years, during which time I also obtained a law degree.

I have since followed policing matters intermittently but have resisted writing thus far on any topic on the basis that I’m too long separated from the job or don’t always know all the facts.

And it’s unfair to spit bullets at the current members of the service who are doing their very best and who, I think, generally work under far more arduous conditions than I ever did.

However, on this occasion, I feel sympathy and great anger in relation to the two people who died in the road accident on the M9, and to their relatives.

It cannot be denied that they were let down by Police Scotland, but it appears that one unfortunate individual in the organisation has, rightly or wrongly, been held responsible for failing or omitting to record properly the initial report of the incident, with ultimately dreadful consequences.

This officer, who was at worst careless and most likely under considerable pressure, was certainly not guilty of any criminal behaviour in my opinion, but I suspect he would have been made to feel he had been, given the outcome of the legal proceedings – a criminal conviction relating to the force.

What mighty legal principle is observed by fining Police Scotland? Surely it only means they have £100,000 less next year? You couldn’t make it up.

What angers me most of all is that those who, to my mind, are heavily implicated in the creation of the circumstances where such incidents are likely to arise, escape any comment or approbation.

I refer to such as Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill, respectively First Minister and Justice Secretary, I recall, who were hell-bent on the creation of a national police force for what I consider were purely political reasons.

If guilty verdicts are being passed on anyone, they should be passed on those, and such as those, who interfered in things of which they had scant practical knowledge.

I believe that political control over the police was as much to do with their thinking as was any benefit to the public.

I do recall meeting Salmond after I had retired, while consideration of the “new” force was ongoing, and trying to convince him that it was an unnecessary and thoroughly bad idea.

I suggested that he might read a Royal Commission report on the police, published in England in the 1960s. Many of the problems were still very similar, but he didn’t seem to have heard of it.

One of the aims of the new force was, of course, greater efficiency. This is highly laudable, if it works. The theory was that putting everything “under one roof” would improve standardisation and the greater provision of more resources. In words of one syllable, “Aye, right”

My own former force, Grampian, dealt with the 1988 Piper Alpha oil-rig disaster and although it was a smallish force, all necessary assistance was made immediately available from national and international sources.

The same year the enquiry into the Pan Am103 bombing over Lockerbie was investigated by Britain’s smallest force, Dumfries and Galloway. Again, any assistance sought was forthcoming from all UK forces, police forces worldwide, British security, FBI, CIA.

Like great big schools, great big hospitals, great big most things, a great big police force disnae work as well as a wee one.

Alastair Blackwood, Scone.




OVER the past few days there has been a constant cacophony of comments regarding the increase in National Insurance contributions.

One of the many comments is that the young are now subsidising the elderly citizens of this country, notwithstanding that these elderly people have been paying N.I. contributions throughout their working life.

To add to this, our pensions are not tax-free. A widow’s pension is taxed at £550 P.A..

Any person who throughout their working life had the sense to build up a personal pension is now paying income tax on their Government pension, and private at the standard rate.

For what it is worth, any pensioner earning over £45,000 is taxed at the full 40% on their total income.

Subsidised by the working population? Like hell we are.






I AM responding to JB Drummond’s letter, “Wrong to pin blame on SNP”, September 9.

I have always been a Unionist at heart and voted No in 2014. I also voted Remain in 2016, and accepted both results, unlike the SNP.

When the SNP took over as the Scottish Government all those years ago I was worried about the Union but prepared to see the SNP use their power to build a more successful, vibrant, Scotland, with a steady improvement in our infrastructure and a reduction in our increasing drug problem.

Had they succeeded in any of their major objectives then I just might have found it more difficult to argue the case for independence.

However, after 14 years of deterioration in our health system, education system, the drugs problem, filthy streets, horrible, pot-holed road surfaces, rusty bridges and filthy road signs, I remain truly horrified as to what this SNP government would do to us if they actually manage to gain independence.

We have a First Minister whose own constituency has almost collapsed below Third-World world levels whilst she prattles away on TV every other day, creating diversion away from the performance of her colleagues who keep failing but keep getting moved to new roles where they continue to fail.

In my working life as a salesman I was responsible for my territory, as a sales manager I was responsible for my region, as a sales director I was responsible for Scotland.

I was rewarded for success and paid the price for failure. In short, I was accountable.

The First Minister seems to be responsible or accountable for nothing.

She is like Teflon –nothing sticks to her – yet in the last 14 years of her SNP administration all we’ve had is continuous degeneration in every sphere of their operation except, of course, their excellent PR machine.

The real question, is “when will it be okay to pin the blame on the SNP?”

John Gilligan, Ayr.





DO we have it at last? (“Most Scots oppose Sturgeon’s Indyref2 timetable, poll suggests”, September 9).

Does a poll reporting that 57% want to remain part of the UK , while only 43% want to leave, reflect the settled will of voters in Scotland, or do we have to wait until the magic figure of 60% is reached?

Whatever your judgment, the attempt by an unnamed SNP spokeswoman to dismiss this poll by saying that the question asked was “ loaded “ is simply risible.

She should be asked to explain why she considers “Should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom or leave the United Kingdom?” is anything other than an accurate recitation of the choice being asked of the voters.

Whilst I doubt she really needs to be reminded, may I just do that by reiterating the opinion of the Electoral Commission, that a question calling for a Yes or No answer is tainted by being biased inherently in favour of Yes – or, in other words, is “loaded”.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop, Ayrshire.





LIKE others of your readers, I have noticed that Glasgow’s litter problem has become noticeably worse recently.

Blaming politicians or political parties is not helpful, though.

Politicians certainly have a role to play, but it is not politicians who thoughtlessly discard their fast-food containers, their drinks bottles, their chocolate-bar wrappers, et cetera, in the city streets.

It is us, the public, who do that. Things will not improve until the public mindset is changed.

Glaswegians claim to be proud of their city. But not enough to be aware when they are defacing it, it seems.

Litter is our responsibility. We should not expect others to clear up the messes we leave around.

Alan Hamilton, Uddingston.





STEVEN Camley’s amusing ‘Free Wallies’ cartoon (September 8), reminded me of a story about the late Rev Ian Paisley.

In full flow with one of his usual fire-and-brimstone sermons he harangued his congregation – “There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth”.

From the pews a quavery old voice piped up: “Whit if ye huvnae ony teeth ?”

Without hesitation the reverend thundered, “Teeth will be provided !”

Isobel McEwan, Skelmorlie.

CAMLEY’S cartoons never fail to cheer me up. Like the best cartoonists he manages to be remarkably concise, saying in one panel what many writers would take a thousand words to say. Today’s cartoon (September 9), with Sturgeon and Johnson, is a perfect case in point.


The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992