Sir, – Following your correspondent Jenny Hjul’s excellent article on Police Scotland, I write to (hopefully) lay to rest the myth regarding duplication of work under the system that prevailed prior to the creation of Police Scotland.
The police forces operating in Scotland did not do the same tasks eight times over, which would be duplication.
They did the same tasks in eight different locations with local accountability and variations to meet local need.
That is not duplication.
It should be kept in mind when looking at Police Scotland that it exists purely as the result of the whim of a disgruntled senior police officer in the shape of Mr House.
Having failed in his attempt to land the post of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis he set about creating a similar post for himself here in Scotland.
He did it by spreading the myth of duplication and producing baseless figures for projected savings that would result from the creation of a single force for Scotland.
As we now know these savings were undeliverable and the reforms have created a monster in the shape of the cumbersome and unworkable Police Scotland.
The error is compounded by an ineffective Scottish Police Authority that has failed to provide proper oversight and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner which seems to be staffed by people who have no idea how to conduct an effective investigation.
Morale in the rank and file is at an all time low and the situation will only get worse as the force is led by a lame duck Chief Constable who does not command the respect required to perform the role.
Meanwhile, the whole mess is overseen by an inexperienced and virtually invisible Justice Secretary.
It is time to reform the reforms.
44 Viewforth Place,
A new battle for Sheriffmuir
Sir, – In his remarkable poem ‘The Battle of Sherramuir’ Robert Burns vividly recreated the terrible sounds of battle, echoed now, in this otherwise peaceful corner of the Ochils, by the noise of machines digging up the great battlefield in preparation for the planting of commercial forest.
In spite of the noise, however, a silence remains.
Protests against the devastation of one of Scotland’s most important historic sites have come from organisations, historians of the battle and other well-informed individuals from across the world.
Those who have remained silent include Stirling Council, well aware of the value of Sheriffmuir as a mecca for visitors, and, most worringly of all, the Scottish Government.
The Forestry Commission, which has given permission for the planting of the forest, has tried to reassure the public with words like ‘biodiversity’ and ‘public access’.
Sheriffmuir is on a par with Culloden in its importance in Scotland’s history but, unfortunately, does not enjoy the National Trust for Scotland’s protection.
Once destroyed the site cannot be restored.
It will just become part of the country’s fast disappearing historic landscape.
The last word must remain with the well-informed tourists who arrived on the battlefield recently and were shocked by what they saw, insisting that such destruction of a nationally important site would not be permitted in their respective countries — and asking why no one had informed the Scottish Government.
Time to take tough action
Sir, – An excellent letter from Bob Duncan who complains that cyclists seem to be a protected species (September 18).
Recently a male cyclist attacked three school girls after crashing into them in Fife.
One girl was aged 11 and the others were 15.
A coward I suggest.
He cycled off and now the police have to expend time trying to track him down if they ever do.
That is why there should be compulsory registration, insurance and identification of all cyclists.
A simple hi-viz sleeveless jacket with a number would do the trick.
If the police stopped errant cyclists at £500 a time the cyclists’ behaviour would improve.
Recently I saw a child cycling on a busy pavement and I have no problem with a child.
What I do object to, however, was the proud mother cycling as well with a large dog on a long lead hassling the pedestrians.
Time to take away cyclists’ apparent immunity from prosecution.
138 Springfield Road,
Guilty of a bid to mislead
Sir, – The Scottish government’s statement on the proposed Catalan independence referendum knowingly seeks to mislead, in its reference to self- determination and quoting of the Edinburgh Agreement as an example of how governments could agree on a referendum.
In regards to the former, the SNP chooses to ignore that opinion polls show the clear majority in Catalonia still want to remain as part of Spain.
The SNP prefer to speak as if only the minority that want independence really matter.
Much the same as they act here in Scotland of course.
Meanwhile, the Spanish government will hardly be impressed by the talk of the Edinburgh Agreement given how quickly the SNP chose to ignore its commitments to respect the result when the outcome did not go its way.
In fact the SNP’s agitation on independence is the perfect example as to why the Spanish government will be reluctant to give in to a vociferous minority determined to impose their will on others.
A matter for local people
Sir, – It was immensely welcome to witness the statement from the Scottish Government, reinforcing the right of the Catalan people to determine their own future.
The right of self- determination of peoples is outlined in the UN Charter, and yet despite this the Spanish Government is doing all that it can to prevent the region’s government from holding a referendum on independence from Spain on October 1.
The decision over Catalonia’s future direction is a matter for the people who live there and of course the Catalan and Spanish governments are perfectly entitled to take positions for and against independence.
It is essential that democracy and civil rights are respected in all countries.
Despite this, there is a growing clampdown by the Spanish state on the holding of such a vote, most recently with the threatened arrest of 700 mayors for agreeing to facilitate voting.
What we are witnessing here is a full frontal assault on democracy, not in South America or Africa, but here in the very heart of Europe, actions which should provoke international outrage.
Should the Spanish government succeed in preventing the Catalans holding their own referendum this will only serve to strengthen the hand of Theresa May and hard-line Unionists who would seek to prevent Scotland having a second independence referendum.
However, should the Catalans prove successful in holding this vote, in facing down the Spanish Government and securing a Yes vote, the impact on Scotland could prove monumental.
77 Leamington Terrace,