The model of policing in Scotland is broken - Readers' Letters

I read with incredulity that there is pressure to reduce the manpower of Police Scotland (Scotsman, 12 December). The centralisation of Police Scotland by the Scottish Government has been an abject failure. The increased politicisation of the police has stripped this service of its connections to the population it is supposed to serve. We have seen officer numbers decline in our towns and cities coupled with a catastrophic failure of the 101 reporting system.

Police Scotland is facing cuts to the number of officers

It is obvious that if the 101 system is broken, which it is, then if the public cannot get through to submit complaints, crime and incident numbers will fall. This is then used as a justification to reduce manpower.

As chairman of our community council, I have received numerous complaints from residents regarding the inability of the police to respond to incidents and complaints. The Scottish Borders Council has invested over £500k to support two policing teams, ostensibly to address additional problems that normal, everyday, policing cannot. This demonstrates that there are insufficient police resources for everyday policing. I know that the nature of policing has changed, there is more cyber crime and organised criminality, but we cannot escape the fact that there are increasing levels of anti-social behaviour and other criminality that blights lives.

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I have raised these issues repeatedly with senior police managers, to no avail. I understand their predicament; they have to toe the line and pretend that all is well. Clearly it is not. Indeed there is a real danger that Police Scotland will lose the support of the public as they become more distant.

These criticisms of Police Scotland are not an attack on our local officers who are doing their best under increasingly difficult circumstances, it is the model of policing that is broken. The rot has to stop and this can only be achieved by the Scottish Government providing the resources that Police Scotland requires to provide an adequate service to our population. If basic policing cannot provide the safety and security that people require to enable them to have happy and fulfilled lives free of being frightened to walk down our high streets and through our parks, then what is the point of policing?

LW Turnbull

Edderston Road, Peebles

Nativity narratives

Once again Steuart Campbell relies on outdated New Testament scholarship to claim that the birth narratives of Jesus in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels were inventions of the early church (Letters, 12 December). These two Evangelists obviously selected their material out of a large amount of available data for their particular purposes in addressing a specific primary audience as well as succeeding generations. The Gospels are of a distinct literary genre and not like modern biographies.

Although we do not expect them to follow the rules of modern historiography, this does not mean that their accounts were fictional. Luke, a Gentile physician and an educated Greek speaker, tells us that he had carefully investigated the story of Jesus as reported by eye-witnesses and was writing an orderly account so that his readers may know “the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4). Probably Luke’s main source for the birth narrative was Mary, the mother of Jesus, as it is told from her perspective. Luke included the account of the shepherds as part of his stress throughout on Jesus appealing particularly to the religious outsiders –shepherds were considered unclean by the religious authorities.

Matthew, a highly educated Jew primarily writing for a Jewish Christian community, seems to concentrate on Joseph’s experience and selected his material accordingly. He includes the visit of the Magi as part of his emphasis on Jesus coming not just for Jewish people but for the whole world. The accounts may be seen as complementary rather than contradictory.

Mark, the author of probably the earliest Gospel, and John, the author of the last of the canonical Gospels to be written towards the end of the first century, also selected their material for their particular purposes. Just because they didn’t include a birth narrative doesn’t prove it was unknown to them. If the early church had got together to fabricate a story, surely they would have ironed out seeming contradictions and inconsistencies. The absence of any evidence for such collaboration supports rather than disproves the historicity of the birth narratives.

Donald M MacDonald

Blackford Avenue, Edinburgh

Rules of the club

Lesley Riddoch expresses concerns about a new Constitutional Convention (Scotsman 7 December), but one of the main issues is not addressed. Neither the UK nor Scotland have a written constitution.

Before joining any club you would take into account its written constitution. The seriousness of not having a written constitution was in evidence when the Westminster Parliament voted to hold a referendum, with a simple majority, on membership of the European Union in 2016. This was even although MPs were advised by the leader of the House that if the referendum was decided on a simple majority it should only be advisory and if it was to be mandatory it would require a larger majority.

The first requirement for a new Scottish Constitutional Convention should be a written constitution which should include the format and rules governing the holding of a referendum. The constitution should be written by people with legal expertise and based on historic and good practice in such matters. The good practice in making serious changes to existing constitutional matters includes the provision that a vote required will be two-thirds majority. Otherwise a simple majority vote would be advisory.

I would hope this important provision will be taken into account as it provides safeguards for the citizens of this country as described by John Stuart Mill, "to prevent the despotism of the numerical majority" and is the only way to ensure a fair and democratic outcome.

C Scott

Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh

Retail therapy

The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time for retail workers, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over. This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around coronavirus.

I want to gently remind readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled.

The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shopworkers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, is asking customers to “Keep your Cool” at Christmas. I would also like to ask readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shopworkers at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621.

Paddy Lillis

General Secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, Great Russell Street, London

War footing

I see that the Ministry of Defence is reported as ready to deploy four vessels to protect our fisheries.

I had always thought this was the responsibility of the Scotland Office and the part of Whitehall looking after fisheries for England and Wales. But maybe this is the cut-down version of Michael Gove's earlier reported intention to build a dozen patrol vessels to look after "our seas" and possibly have a new Cod War to unify our embattled country post-Brexit. I only hope that their rules of engagement do not involve "protecting" Scottish vessels fishing as usual in Norwegian waters

LV McEwan

Oswald Road, Edinburgh

Big questions

The daily instruction for Covid-19 protection would be easier to understand if there were fewer contradictions.

Safer not to meet neighbours at social distance at home; we should sit cheek by jowl in a hotel to have a cup of coffee. Why?

Hotels are open for overnight visits but cannot serve alcohol with meals. Why?

Shops are open provided face masks are worn at all times making conversation difficult. Why?

There are more examples but enough is enough.

AA Bullions

Glencairn Crescent, Leven, Fife

Spex appeal

Much as Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You finally reaching No.1 in the UK is 26 years overdue – the last truly great original "classic" Christmas song written and recorded – would it not be more appropriate if this year's Christmas No.1 was X-Ray Spex’s 1978 Christmas classic Germ Free Adolescents?

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Right to protest

I'm not sure I agree with all the "Scotland Against Lockdown" marchers who gathered outside Nicola Sturgeon's Bute Huse residence on Saturday to campaign against vaccines and Covid restrictions.

But the right to protest is one close to the First Minister’s heart, as we see from the All Under One Banner marches and the thousands who surrounded the BBC's Glasgow HQ during the referendum.

Hopefully these latest protesters will have emboldened others to similarly demonstrate against the SNP's Hate Crime Bill, Covid care home management, indy obsession, Salmond inquiry secrecy and education disaster. As we saw in the collapse of Communism in 1989, these changes have small beginnings and we may yet see a "Nicola Ceaucescu" moment in Scotland.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

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