IT'S a sad and sobering statistic that Scotland should be viewed as the drug death capital of Europe. With the drug death rates in Scotland being roughly three and a half times more than those in England and Wales, there's obviously something radically wrong with the Scottish Government's approach to resolving the issue.

Government funding cuts and the First Minister's admission that her Government "had taken its eye off the ball" point to the problems created by the lack of drug treatment facilities being ignored by ministers for many years. The appointment of Angela Constance as the Minister for Drug Policy is obviously intended to inject some urgency into reforming the chaotic system, but I sense that the impetus to do so in a timely fashion is not there.

The Right to Recovery Bill, which includes a right to residential rehabilitation, being discussed by MSPs ("Drug deaths expected to exceed 10,000 since SNP came to power, Tories say", The Herald, July 29) may be an important step towards providing a legal framework within which proper reform can take place, but as the bill has been introduced by a Tory I would suspect that the SNP Government's reception of it will be somewhat lukewarm. With so many lives being placed at risk through drug misuse, this is not the time for party politics and shenanigans and we need all parties to work together to bring about an effective and lasting drug treatment policy.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


RECORD drug deaths should be a matter of national shame for any government. They are not always preventable, but much can be done to help drug users beat the habit. What it takes, however, is providing facilities to help deal with the cause of the addiction.

In January this year, the SNP refused to reinstate rehab beds that had been cut under its watch. The SNP has done what it always does when faced with an issue, it has set up a task force to think about what it can do. Little appears to have come out of this talking shop yet apart from the ridiculous idea to spend £2.75 million on smartphones for addicts.

In February, Angela Constance, the newly-named Minister for Drugs Policy, said: “Government absolutely needs to lead, needs to be visible, needs to be doing much more, better and faster.” There has been little to see of this.

The SNP talking while people die is the modern version of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Buildings can be replaced after a fire, lives can’t.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


FOR 60 years there has been a UK policy of prohibition for drugs. Just like the old policy of prohibition in America, this policy has been remarkably effective – in that it has made a fabulous market for criminal traffickers. Drugs in the Caribbean are now moved around in submarines, so rich have the dealers become. The illegal drugs industry is now estimated to be worth £230 billion per annum and rising every day.

What prohibition has not been quite so effective at has been reducing the number of addicts, or reducing the availability of drugs. Indeed drugs have never been more freely available, and the victims of drug addiction have never been more numerous; people whose lives have been ruined and shortened and whose families have been through hell and back many times.

So the gangsters and evil criminals will have warmly welcomed the contribution to drug policy by the Westminster Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, when he spewed the inane bilge “there is a strong link between crime and drugs”. Oh really?

The policy of drugs prohibition by any measure been a catastrophe. It has failed utterly at every level. It has increased the availability of drugs. It has boosted the number of criminals. It has boosted massively the profits of criminals. It has corrupted governments and caused some countries like Mexico to be in a state of virtual permanent civil war.

But most of all it has overseen a huge growth in human misery, failing physical and mental health and early death.

Karen Heath, Kirriemuir.


TEDDY Jamieson’s article on the RNLI, especially the headline ("The RNLI is a force for good. Does that need said?" The Herald, July 30), hit the nail right on the head. These people put their own lives on the line every time they go out to save those in danger, irrespective of their gender, creed or colour.

A memory that will stay in my mind forever is the Longhope lifeboat tragedy in March 1969, when the eight crew lost their lives going to a ship that run aground in a storm. One of my classmates in school that day lost his dad and two brothers. Nevertheless the bereaved and the rest of the community of Longhope insisted that the lifeboat must be replaced.

Another aspect of the abuse thrown at the lifeboatmen who save the refugees in danger is that those throwing the abuse presumably would prefer to see the refugees drown. What sort of people are they? Is this minority being encouraged to behave this way by the UK’s developing policy towards immigration?

No matter their motives, they simply don’t measure up in any comparison to the lifeboatmen, their families and the communities who support them.

Willie Towers, Alford.


IT is important that people are aware that the ferry problems are not the fault of Calmac. Rather, they are a direct result of the actions, or lack thereof, of CMAL, Transport Scotland and, ultimately the Scottish Government.

As Roy Pedersen has pointed out, lack of money has not been the problem but failure is a direct result of the dated advice given by CMAL and Transport Scotland to the Scottish Government leading to the misuse of the funds. Essentially they are commissioning and building the wrong ships and, sadly, appear to have no plans to change tack.

The Mull and Iona Ferry Committee has identified a new-build 80-car catamaran which can be purchased, fully compliant, for £12 million, one quarter of the probable cost of a CMAL-commissioned Isle of Mull replacement.

It has been suggested that the unions do not want a catamaran as the crewing requirement of 14 is half that of a typical CMAL vessel. If two such catamarans were placed on the Mull route, or any other route for that matter, one based at each end of the route, the crew complement would not change, satisfying union objections; total fuel costs would be reduced by one third, pier extensions would not be required and the service dramatically improved.

The ferry users in Arran, Mull and the Minch triangle have, for years, requested two smaller vessels as replacements but have been, rather contemptuously, ignored.

CMAL can blame Ferguson Marine till the cows come home, and doubtless will, but it appears to be the case that it is equally, if not more culpable, in this shocking waste of public money. The money squandered on the Ferguson new-builds would have purchased 16 catamarans similar to that identified by the Mull committee and that in a fraction of the normal CMAL lead time of five to six years. Pentland Ferries' lead time for Alfred was some 18 months.

I say again, do not blame Calmac, or its staff, for problems not of their making. I have heard nothing but praise for the efforts of Calmac staff to mitigate these problems. CMAL and Transport Scotland are the culprits and should be held to account.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.


FOLLOWING the SNP Government’s unwise plan to require its 8,000 civil servants to “mainstream” the use of Gaelic (including its reported 50 or 55 full-time-equivalent press officers) it now wants them all to add their preferred pronouns to their email sign-offs (presumably in both English and Gaelic) despite strong majority opposition among its staff ("The First Minister – she/her – is in the right", The Herald, July 29).

If I were a civil servant and instead of “he/him/his” I gave my preference as “it/its”, would that be permitted by the powers that be? At least that would adhere to their non-sexist agenda too, and would avoid the ambiguity and resulting confusion that “they/them/their” can have if used for singular as well as plural designations.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


THE Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and other Canadian media are pointing out that both Scottish and English authorities are not allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to visit the UK without quarantining for 10 days. Canada is planning to open up to foreign vaccinated visitors in September.

Why would the Scottish and UK governments allow fully vaccinated Americans travelling to the UK to skip 10 days of quarantining but not provide that same exemption to Canadians arriving in Scotland or England?

The Canadian vaccination rate is much better than the American rate. In Canada 72 per cent have had one dose and 58% are fully vaccinated. The American rates are 57% and 49% respectively.

As a digital reader of The Herald from Canada and a Scots expat I would love to see you highlight the inconsistency by indicating that the factual vaccination evidence would support a Canadian exemption.

Ian Elder, Toronto, Canada.


I NOTE Iain AJ McKie's letter (July 30) on the topic of Police Scotland. He complains of Chris Keegan (Letters, July 28) harking back to the "good old days". During such days, before 2013 when Police Scotland was established, the Scottish police forces were responsible through the chief constables and local boards to the local communities they served. Now, in particular with the numerous changes of personnel at the top of both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority, it has been difficult at times since 2013 to understand who is effectively responsible to whom and for what.

The Scottish Police Authority is understood to have a role in maintaining policing, promoting policy principles and continuous improvement of policing, and holding the Chief Constable to account. It would be helpful, in the interests of clarification and better public understanding, to be made aware by the chair of the Scottish Police Authority of what it is currently doing to pursue the various aspects of its role and by the Chief Constable of the respects in which he regards himself as answerable to the First Minister.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


IF your statement that "the average Scot is believed to consume 18.4 tonnes of material every single year" (“Let’s not waste our opportunity to change”, The Herald, July 29) is not just a load of old rubbish, then we should all be very solid citizens and our personal bodily disposal systems would require the SS Shieldhall to be rapidly re-commissioned and make more than one daily trip "doon the watter".

Donald Macaskill, Glasgow.

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