Sir, – Alex Salmond accuses those who raise their concerns over Police Scotland’s stop-and-search policy of doing so for “puerile politicking”.
This is an attempt to divert attention from the SNP’s train crash of Police Scotland.
Alex Salmond is using the awful death of Bailey Gwynne at Cults Academy to justify the stop-and-search policy that has been abused by Police Scotland to harass young people from less wealthy and underprivileged areas.
This is based on academic research. Alex Salmond should know this but chooses to ignore the research.
The policy has resulted in one in five Scots being stopped and searched with no records kept, so Alex Salmond has nofigures to base his assumption on.
Using this lad’s death to score political points is beneath contempt.
The decrease in the use of weapons is down to the No Knives Better Lives campaign.
Quite recently there was a Courier report that a senior police inspector in Dundee said that he would find it difficult to police areas without stop-and-search.
He mentioned Charleston and another working-class area in Dundee.
This was quite an admission but if he had backed this up withsome figures regarding the number of searches and the number of offensive weapons found, it would have been easyto compare searchescarried out and weapons found.
It is extremely doubtful that the stop-and-search regime by Police Scotland would have changed the outcome of the tragedy at Cults Academy.
The chances of someone from the Cults area being stopped and searched are slim to nothing.
It should have been obvious to the SNP administration that records of stop-and-search should have been taken but as some well-respected opponents of stop-and-search have said, this would have shown the true purpose of stop-and-search: harassment in working-class areas.
Alex Salmond’s attempt to use a tragedy to make political capital for the Scottish Government is very disappointing.
Robert Alexander. 5 West Smieton Street, Carnoustie.
We pay price of police shambles
Sir, – In his Courier column (November 2) Alex Salmond used the tragedy at an Aberdeen school to try to score political points over the critics of Police Scotland, describing their concerns over stop-and-search as “puerile politicking”.
That is shameful enough in itself but only to be expected from an ex-First Minister who presided over the creation of the national force and the chaotic shambles which has followed.
The way in which stop-and-search was being carried out was illegal.
Therefore, it was the way in which the police were implementing that function which was deficient, not the law. Police officers have ample powers to do their job if they use them properly.
The SNP Government should urgently address the deplorably low level of service which Police Scotland delivers, the lack of accountability at local level, the virtual takeover of the national force by its Strathclyde senior contingent, the lack of visible foot patrols in, for example,
Dundee city centre, and above all else, the shattered morale which the recent staff survey evidenced.
And it is no good trying to rely on the notion that crime has fallen because research exists to show that very many crimes go unreported because the victims realise that little or nothing will be done to solve them.
Meanwhile, the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, continues to refuse to answer thesimple question, yes or no, of whether or not Police Scotland is one of the two forces in the UK under investigation for spying on MPs.
That is hardly the action normally associated with the fairer, socially just, transparent, open Scottish society we are asked to embrace.
The SNP created Police Scotland purely for its own political ends. It is us, the public, who are paying the practical price. No amount of spin by Mr Salmond and his SNP machine can disguise that.
Jim Shaw. Hill Street, Dundee.
Cyclists do pay their way
Sir- Clark Cross (November 4) complains of cyclists not paying their share of our road costs and asks that they pay Vehicle Excise Duty as do motorists.
Alas, Mr Cross is a little out of date as this tax has been part of general taxation since 1937.
We all pay for our roads through taxes and this includes cyclists, most of whom own cars but choose to cycle and cause no damage at all to our crumbling roads, as Mr Cross describes them.
I would have thought, given the latest news of high pollution caused by motor vehicles, that cyclists would be seen as a public good as they are in several European countries but here it seems they pilloried as anti-social parasites hardly an enlightened attitude.
I have no brief for cyclists who ride in a dangerous manner but given our traffic-congested roads and the high number of cyclist casualties, 109 fatalities in 2013 and 3,143 seriously injured, it is little wonder that some might choose to use the pavements rather than risk the roads.
George White. 2 Cupar Road, Auchtermuchty.
Are badgers in the clear?
Sir, – The cat, or should I say, badger is out of the bag.
DEFRA has revealed their latest findings which indicate thatareas of England now devoid of badgersshow that instances of bovine TB remain unchanged.
The research that resulted in the cullwas flawed in so many respects and by theirown admission, theministry stated, much of it was guesswork butsomething had to be done.
My own guesswork is that DEFRA got itwrong and we should stop the slaughter and concentrate on another possibility.
The once-common house sparrow flits between fields and farms so could this be the culprit and should the same measures be taken against it as the badger?
I understand farmers are upset at losing valuable cattle through bovine TB but the badger population of our land has paid a far higher price with their lives.
Ron Blanchard. 177 Kinghorn Road, Burntisland.
Raise taxes to help vulnerable
Sir, – The threatened withdrawal in Angus of sheltered housing wardens, laundry services for the incontinent and now home helps are the latest cuts facing the most vulnerable among us.
These services were designed to allow people some independence, with support, but now the alternative for some will be residential care.
The changes which are proposed to the working tax credit payments are again aimed at the wrong people.
These are people who are working full time to provide for their families, but, through no fault of their own, their wages are not adequate.
As for the changes to policing to one large force covering allScotland, it is unmanageable and morale is low.
Rural and city areas have different needs and the emergency services’ call centre staff are not familiar with some of the areas they cover.
Then there is education. The SNP claim they want Scottish education to be the best experience for every child but have provided free meals for primaries one to three and then removed the early intervention assistants who helped children who came into school with less pre-school experience, allowing teachers to work with more able children.
Learning support/additional support needs teachers, of which I was one until I retired, have not been replaced.
As for the NHS, I have two daughters who are doctors and the pressures and long hours which they work, leave them exhausted and depressed.
Another penny on income tax or an increase in council tax would not be a hardship for the majority of tax payers and the money raised could be used for all the services which are so vital to the more vulnerable in our communities.
Heather Finch. Heather Croft, Letham (Angus).
Amorous in Angus
Sir, – Last week, courtesy of my laptop, I received an emailinviting me to meet a Russian beauty.
A couple of days later, an email offered me a meeting with a Brazilian beauty.
My wife suggested that I just delete them as I am 79 and full of arthritis and I would be no good to anyone.
And I thought I was the chosen one.
James Grahame. 2 Panmure Street, Monifieth.
Value of BB friendship
Sir, – I hope the 1st St Andrews Company The Boys’ Brigade secures the services of officers to keep it marching into the future.
I was a former BB member and officer in the 1st Kinglassie Company and was sorry it had to disband for the same reason.
The friendship and fellowship shared by the boys in the 1950s continues to this day. Most of us are in our 70s or 80s. We had a reunion a few years ago and it was a greatday for nostalgia and emotion.
Thomas Michie. 93 Main Street, Kinglassie.
Are we better red than dead?
Sir, – You reported SNP MP Stephen Gethins wants the return of RAF jets to Leuchars to counter the ever-increasing shore-defence probing by Russian aircraft and submarines.
Is this a good reason for retaining theTrident deterrent?
A neighbouring country to Russia withdrew its nuclear weapons and was promptly partially invaded by them.
Perhaps the Scottish National Party should use the slogan, betterred than dead, in their election material.
RHL Mulheron. 28 Cowgate, Tayport.