BRIAN Murphy (Letters, March 11) is rightly concerned regarding events that unfolded last weekend in Glasgow. Police officers must behave professionally. Posing for "selfies", sometimes as part of the “happy, smiling face of Police Scotland”, was unwise in such a polarised environment.

But Mr Murphy is mistaken in thinking police leadership was lacking: the commanders knocked their pans in last weekend. All highly experienced in public order, they continually volunteer for the most demanding command roles on top of busy day jobs, not for promotion prospects (Mr Murphy might recall that the risky stuff is not what gets you promoted), but because the job needs done.

If your correspondent is formerly Chief Inspector Brian Murphy of Strathclyde Police who mentored me as a "match commander" at Fir Park in 2004, then he might not be aware that there are now far more stringent methods for training commanders, discarding old methods of “shadow one, do one, teach one”. Public order policing has been transformed since the mid-noughties, largely due to lessons hard learned by the Met, and now taught on command courses as fundamental, stated legal cases. For example, containment of large crowds (the marching box cordon on Sunday), is a highly contentious police tactic which usually leads to much howling from those inside the box, “We’re being kettled!”

Decisions to restrict liberties are not taken lightly. The "escort" from Ibrox safely corralled crowds vastly outnumbering police resources and facilitated controlled movement on the roads with approaching traffic managed. The alternative would be a mass, uncontrolled (and quickly uncontrollable) movement of hundreds, thousands of people on footways and across roads absolutely determined to make their way into the city centre.

Public order operations are planned on timely, accurate intelligence (which is often scant) and shaped on what might reasonably be foreseen with contingencies for the unknown. This often necessitates over-resourcing to the detriment of local policing elsewhere (hindering our response as per Mr Murphy’s maxim, “Get me the polis!”). And when policing numbers and tactics do lead to robust action, more arrests, we stand by for the armchair critics crying: “Heavy-handed policing!”

Significant numbers of police officers are needed to "close off" George Square, an iconic place where many groups gravitate to celebrate, to protest, to be heard and seen. The police operation was founded on experience of what is realistically achievable in the moment with what is available – and that tactical plan did not include allowing advancing hordes to fragment in the city centre.

Balancing the qualified human rights for public assembly and protest and upholding the law absolutely is no simple task. As I near retirement myself, I am reassured that Police Scotland has a cadre of event commanders who are willing to take on the most difficult jobs and are committed to maintaining specialist skills such as firearms command and hostage negotiation, in addition to their day job. As ever, the Special Constabulary is recruiting; armchair commanders most welcome.

Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, President, The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, Scottish Police College, Tulliallan.

* I AM just back from yet another NHS check. The war on the coronavirus threat continues unabated. On entry, hand rinsing, mask wearing and social distancing were observed. Such responsible behaviour was in the same city where a few days earlier several hundred football supporters saw fit to totally disregard public health directives.

Perhaps Rangers FC should seriously consider making a sizeable contribution to the NHS in view of their supporters' celebratory exuberance. Whilst not excusing the street scenes, action by the club would assist in retrieving the tarnished public persona of those fans involved.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.


THE SNP has done it again. Its new Hate Crime Bill ("Controversial hate crime legislation passes final hurdle in Holyrood vote", The Herald, March 12) sidelines the very real rights and concerns of women. This comes at the same time as its proposed Gender Recognition Act is under attack for the very same reason and just as the sad case of the death of Sarah Everard re-ignites the debate over the safety of women too ("Family tributes for ‘beautiful’ Sarah", The Herald, March 12).

The SNP suffers from a lack of concentration on those matters which affect everyday life because its focus is still on controversial changes to society. The most recent polls have shown a decline in support for the SNP. The eyes of the general public have been opened. Scots don't want more division, they want a government they can trust and that is attuned to their actual basic needs of health, employment and education.

This is something the SNP is demonstrably failing to do.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

* SO in May, after more than half of Scotland has not voted for the SNP and all its works just as it has never done, should the majority then form an orderly queue outside the local sheriff court to be processed under the hate crime legislation? Probably not, but strangely credible. What a truly horrible country we have become.

John Dunlop, Ayr.


ON Thursday, Alison Johnstone, a Green MSP, described the Prime Minister's plans for road improvement – including vital arteries such as the A1 and A75 – as "planet-wrecking" ("Sturgeon has ‘no plans’ to cut passenger duty amid climate commitments", The Herald, March 12). What planet is she on?

Good roads speed food deliveries. They allow emergency vehicles and ambulances to go further and faster to save lives. They provide easy access to real employment for key workers, provide the basis for interaction among friends, relatives and strangers, and allow commerce and business to thrive.

The Scottish Greens have proved themselves time and again not only to be backward-looking but the SNP's best mates. George Galloway has described them as "the SNP's gardening section".

Environmental problems know no boundaries; air and sea pollution are not halted by frontiers. Yet the Scottish Greens want to split Scotland from the UK, which has some of the strictest environmental protection in the world. Airborne carbon dioxide won't stop at Gretna.

Are the Scottish Greens really green or are they using greenwash to cloak their real intent of bringing down capitalism and individual prosperity in a Great Reset ?

There is no doubt that a vote for the Greens in May is a vote against human progress, against business, industry and commerce, and against individual freedom.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


WITH the student exchange programme, the Turing scheme, now open for applications ("Johnson launches new ‘truly global’ Turing exchange scheme for students", The Herald, March 12, and Letters, March 12), it should be noted that this is a pale reflection of its predecessor, the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.

The ending of Erasmus has crushed the hopes of many students who want to live, study and travel abroad. Unlike Erasmus, Turing will not pay tuition costs and living allowances have been slashed by a fifth.

While the European Commission paid travel costs of up to £1,315, now only students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will receive help from the UK Government.

And, most significantly, free study in any EU country, plus some others in Europe, has been replaced by pressure on universities and colleges to strike deals. The UK Government committed to helping disadvantaged students access study-abroad opportunities, but without support to cover tuition fees this will be impossible for many.

To add to this, it is also scarcely credible to explain how a scheme costing only £100 million could fund the travels of 35,000 students – working out at only £2,850 each. It is also unclear whether students will be funded to come to the UK, potentially depriving British universities of a significant source of income. Not doing so would “blow a hole” in the UK’s economy worth £243m a year, a group of education and business leaders calculated last year.

The loss of Erasmus, which brings different countries and nationalities together and generates such massive cultural and educational benefits, is a huge blow and yet another example of the devastating impact of Brexit.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.


I WRITE to support Patrice Fabien in advocating the holding of a referendum on the British monarchy (Letters, March 10). However, I believe that he has as much chance of one being held in the foreseeable future as Prince Andrew volunteering to go to the US to give evidence in the Ghislaine Maxwell case. In view of the evolutionary rather than the revolutionary nature of British society, the monarchy is likely to survive for a generation or two yet. But it does not deserve to, not because the job is being performed badly, but because the institution itself is a standing affront to democracy.

Unfortunately for Mr Fabien and those who share his republican sentiments, the majority in this country probably don’t mind the other royals hanging around even when some are jumping ship.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

* I’M in no way surprised that the Greens would abolish the monarchy. But what would they replace it with? An elected president? A political appointee? A "people's' champion"?

Given the continuous and endemic behaviour of their SNP allies, it’s not always what monarchy does, but who it keeps out of political influence that is its main role.

David Bone, Girvan.


IN all the current discussion of the aggression of some men against women ("Family tributes for ‘beautiful’ Sarah", The Herald, March 12), two words stood out for me this morning – respect and protection.

What kind of role model do boys and young men have when our Prime Minister’s attitude to women is such that he cannot/will not tell us how many children he has or who exactly are their mothers?

L McGregor, Falkirk.


THE contribution from Alan Milligan (Letters, March 12) is by far the best espousal of the Latin language I have read in this ongoing debate. May I contribute one phrase that, amongst others, I recall from my high school days, festina lente (make haste slowly), that is particularly apposite in these times as regards relaxation of the present restrictions imposed by the pandemic?

John Macnab, Falkirk.

Read more: For how much longer must we be humiliated by the SNP?