AS an ex-police officer it is always fascinating to see a colleague (Chris Keegan, Letters, July 28), harking back to the good old days", while blithely ignoring the massive political, social, economic, cultural, philosophical and technological changes that have taken place in the intervening years. I certainly agree with Mr Keegan that the reliance on technology to reduce police presence on the ground in communities, while understandable, is regrettable and to my mind is likely to create an even bigger gulf between police and public.

However, he seeks to support his general thesis by pointing out that we have always had major events such as COP26 in Scotland and all were efficiently dealt with. Interestingly, he cites three such events, the 1981 Hampden football “riot’, the Papal visit in 1982 and the 1988 Lockerbie disaster, to support his alienation thesis.

Coincidentally I was involved in all three events and would be the first to agree that the police plan for the Pope’s visit was carried through efficiently and sensitively. However during the Hampden "riot", as the force media officer, I was one of the very few police officers on the pitch creating an extremely thin blue line between the rioting fans while watching, with some trepidation, various projectiles arching over my head. The next few months spent defending the police planning for the event, in the face of a barrage of political and media criticism, are still vivid in my memory.

As Secretary of the Justice for Megrahi group I am only too aware of the Lockerbie tragedy and while being the first to admit the commitment of front line staff at the scene, and during the aftermath, many questions remain to be answered in respect of the police investigation and eventual prosecution of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

We all reflect on the past in different ways, and of course I respect Mr Keegan’s opinions, but Police Scotland has had to change with the times. When I look at its response to the unprecedented, and at times unfair, operational demands made of it during the current pandemic I believe that, while much has been lost, we still have a police force to be proud of and policing principles worth sharing with the world.

Iain A J McKie, Ayr.


CATRIONA Stewart's column ("It's time to copy the Aussies: slip, slop, slap", The Herald, July 27) made interesting reading. Thinking back to my medical student days in the early 1970s, we were taught about the rising incidence of malignant melanoma, and the role of excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a major contributing cause.

Later on, I found this rather puzzling. If one fast-rewinds back 80 years or so, to the newsreel films that were shown to British cinema audiences of the progress of our servicemen in the Second World War, any item about "our boys in North Africa" or similar theatres of war where the weather was hot and sunny would usually show pictures of wiry young men, their bronzed bodies stripped to the waist, often clad in nothing more that shorts, boots and socks. Surely, the incidence of malignant melanoma would be very high.

Glasgow University Library has a copy of the official report of the medical aspects of the war. It consists of a principal volume, with subsidiary volumes regarding the principal theatres in which the war was fought.

I was surprised to find that, although various skin problems represented a significant loss of manpower on both temporary and permanent basis, malignant melanoma did not seem to feature at all.

I wondered why this apparent discrepancy. Perhaps it might have been because travel to foreign parts in the days of yore would be by troopship. This could take a few weeks, and give the opportunity for more gradual acclimatisation, whereas today, it is possible to walk on to an aeroplane after an early breakfast and be in a hot spot in time for a late lunch. Or perhaps I was not reading the right part of the reports.

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.


WE are spending billions on electric vehicle charging infrastructure but what about the roads themselves? Potholes, humps, ridges and corrugations are ignored. Furthermore, roads are still being surfaced with a noisy top coat which makes driving an unpleasant experience.

It didn't used to be like that. Every so often you will drive over a 50-year-old patch of smooth Tarmac – bliss. Some short sections of the A68 have recently been resurfaced with such a top dressing and the difference is day from night.

There is no acoustic specification for noise level created by road surfaces – there should be as it is a health and safety issue. I would not be surprised if Scottish van delivery drivers suffered from tinnitus or labyrthinitis as a result. Mind you this is not just a Scottish problem, it's a national one. Much of the A1(M), for example, from Scotch Corner to The Angel requires ear defenders, and tyre noise from the motorway is unpleasant from a mile away.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


OH dear. Eric Macdonald (Letters, July 29) has really set the cat among the pigeons with the disclosure that the Albert ballroom in Glasgow was known as “Grab a Granny”.

When I took my still dearly-beloved there 60 years ago she told me she was 21. Did she lie about her age?

The search starts now for the royal telegram.

R Russell Smith, Largs.