Readers' Letters: Police Scotland needs a complete overhaul

Calum Steele, former General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, was on Radio Scotland yesterday in connection with the sad Emma Caldwell case, with a damning condemnation of policing in Scotland.
Police Scotland are in a shameful state, reckons correspondentPolice Scotland are in a shameful state, reckons correspondent
Police Scotland are in a shameful state, reckons correspondent

“Failure to be honest”, “governance needs to improve”, “lack of accountability” and “future policing in Scotland has lack of sustainability” are all comments from Mr Steele and it is shocking that a former police officer has come to this conclusion. Once again, a very senior police officer, an assistant Chief Constable, has apologised for the lack of accountability. These senior officers are paid vast salaries, in fact the Chief Constable of Police Scotland has a greater salary than the Prime Minister, and they are not accountable.

Strathclyde Police failed in the Caldwell case, Police Scotland also failed. There have been four Chief Constables since the SNP’s formation of Police Scotland in 2013 and as many Chairs of the SPA; this is not acceptable. Some Chief Constables are knighted despite failures and Iain Livingstone’s parting shot was to claim that Police Scotland had “institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination” at its core. He was responsible for overseeing these failures and was knighted – why?

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Scottish police are no longer investigating “minor” crimes. Police Scotland numbers have reduced, and senior officers are taking their pension and getting out. There is a senior executive team of about 17 people with an annual salary bill in the region of £3-4 million and it is not working. Calum Steele is correct, it would appear that the “sustainability” of Police Scotland is in doubt. Perhaps it is time to appoint him Chief Constable – an able, articulate and principled man, qualities it would appear are sadly missing in the organisation today.

Scotland had eight police forces accountable to local authorities. The SNP created Police Scotland to give them political control of one Chief Constable. It has been an abject failure and opposition parties must call for a complete overhaul of policing in Scotland.

Douglas Cowe, Kingseat, Aberdeenshire

Both ways

Catriona Clark (Letters, 29 February) echoes the refrain of the SNP congratulating itself on a number of its policies. The problem is that she and they label several of these policies as “free” – clearly a misnomer.

Tuition fees are funded by the Scottish taxpayer, as are all the other SNP handouts, such as baby boxes. Whether these policies have merit is arguable, but it does not change the fact that the SNP makes a choice to spend the taxpayers’ money on them and that this contributes significantly to a looming billion pound deficit in Scotland's finances.

But of course, at this point the SNP paean changes to a lament. The reason that their latest budget cuts, for example, £200 million from the affordable housing programme, is not because they prefer to spend the taxpayers' money on baby boxes or council tax freezes but, woe is me, because the UK Government is shortchanging them! And let's turn a blind eye to the fact the Barnett formula ensures over £2,000 more is spent on every man, woman and child in Scotland compared to the UK as a whole.

Typically the SNP wishes to have it both ways. They crave praise for what they see as the benefits of policies which are distinctive from those in the UK while vilifying the UK Government for failing to provide the wherewithal to finance them!

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Save the children

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, in response to the call from SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn for the UK Government to work with the UN toward an immediate ceasefire in Gaza rather than continuing to abstain on crucial votes, Rishi Sunak said an immediate ceasefire “is not in anyone's interests”. Does Mr Sunak really not know that Palestinian children and babies are among those who are dying daily?

Ni Holmes, St Andrews, Fife

Gas and air

It was unfortunate that, in his reply to Clark Cross, Dr Stephen Moreton (Letters, 29 February) used incorrect data to make two incorrect claims that “renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation”.

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The first problem is the refusal by Greens supporters to recognise that, as wind output is based on an inefficient, unreliable technology (no wind means no electricity), then the cost of back-up generation needs to be added to the cost of electricity from wind farms.

The second mistake is the failure to note that generation costs only from 35 per cent of the bill consumers must pay. The April 2024 Ofgem data indicates that domestic gas is priced at 6p/unit plus 31p/day standing charge (ie the cost has returned to prices charged in 2021) while electricity is 24p/unit plus 60p/day standing charge, which is 50 per cent higher than the price in 2021.

This means that a ban on domestic gas will result in a 300 per cent increase in annual consumer bills once such a ban is introduced which will escalate the cost-of-living crisis in Scotland!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Windy wonderland

Perhaps we should all consider starting a business in Scotland and, in particular, one generating electricity from the wind. Indeed, at a recent tea party Alice was amazed at hearing Scottish wind farms shared £275 million in 2023 for – wait for it – switching off their wind generators at times of high wind and/or low demand, or at times when the grid did not have enough capacity to accommodate the power that was being generated.

The Mad Hatter added gleefully that at the end of the day, the cost would be added to the bills of households and business owners, saying it was a jolly good wheeze, getting the naive and gullible to pay. At this point the dormouse was laughing so much that he spilt his cup of tea and fell off his chair at the suggestion of the Mad Hatter being thought mad.

I never thought that in the 21st century I would be writing such bizarre words, but such is the limitation of those responsible for the UK energy strategy and general lack of engineering knowledge that we have come to such a sorry state. Especially when the solution is so straightforward – but of course, it requires engineering knowledge and common sense. Quite simply, our current energy strategy should be predominantly modern, efficient gas-fired power stations complemented by hydro and tidal schemes, until realistic and environmentally acceptable generation is available. Gas-fired power stations could become more environmentally acceptable if fed with pre-heated geothermal water – if only the Romans were still in Bath so as to teach politicians a thing or two!

Dave Haskell, Brithdir, Cardigan

Concentrated fear

I read Aidan Smith’s tongue-in-cheek article about giving a smartphone to his child (Perspective, 27 February). He’s right to point out the quantity and (lack of) quality that his child will be able to access but there is a more salient and serious point that seldom gets aired. Namely, that the social media companies are using algorithms to mine data about the phone holder and using it to divert him/her down rabbit holes to unsuitable material.

In addition, the use of mobile phones is responsible for destroying our children’s concentration by constantly encouraging them to switch from story to story, thereby negating the chance for in-depth study of a subject. Many children these days are unable to sit for any length of time with a good book. The author Johann Hari wrote a fabulous expose of all things with a tech screen in his book Stolen Focus and it should be required reading by every parent before they give their child a mobile phone.

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But, as Mr Smith said, the genie is out of the bottle and I can’t see any parent trying successfully to stop their child from having a phone. I fear for future generations’ lack of concentration and how this will impact society in general.

N Armstrong, Dunfermline, Fife

Nanny state

Humza Yousaf has claimed the SNP is not authoritarian regarding the sanction handed down to Fergus Ewing, in the very same week that the SNP public health minister Jenni Minto confirmed that they are looking to restrict promotions of foods high in fat, sugar or salt. This administration is determined to control what we drink and eat.

The Scottish electorate should be considered competent enough to make decisions on what they choose to consume rather than being dictated to. If this isn’t evidence of how authoritarian the SNP are, I don’t know what is.

Jane Lax, Aberlour, Speyside

More shame!

Politicians are at it again, thinking they can legislate every detail of life for the human being. They are trying to reduce obesity in the population by banning and/or curtailing the sale of certain food products in Scotland.

Their efforts will be in vain, as they have been in the past. Two things have led to the explosion of obesity. First of all, the word “fat” has been outlawed from everyday speech, and secondly, there is the nonsensical idea of “inclusivity” to make simpletons believe being fat is not just okay, it is normal. We have fallen down a rabbit hole where there is no shame and everyone must be nice and respect all others at all times. No-one is ashamed of being fat these days and they should be... that's the problem.

The banning of shame has also promoted a culture of entitlement whereby self-reliance is a foreign concept in our society. Time for a reset, bring back shame.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

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