WHILST your front-page story on police use of stop-and-search powers is not welcome news, I feel strangely relieved that it was not just my imagination that my teenage children were being unfairly treated by being repeatedly stopped, questioned, having their names and addresses noted and, on a couple of occasions, searched ("Human rights fears as police search 23,000 under-15s", The Herald, August 22).

Senior officers say that stop and search must be proportionate and intelligence-led. I believe that more important than this is the fact that the law clearly states that officers must have probable suspicion. My son and daughter have told me that on no occasion has any officer given the reasons for their suspicion. It would, therefore, appear that being a young person in a public place is sufficient.

The irony is that young people with nothing to fear are unwilling to stand up to police officers and question the officers' grounds for stopping them.

The cynical attitude that "they'll just find something else to do you for", learned from bitter experience, sadly prevails. Unfortunately, that's not a good enough reason for tolerating the abuse of powers which I accept can be useful in some circumstances.

Gordon McNeill,

Laburnum House,

Hartree, Biggar.

WHILE your figures referenced the increase in stop-searches carried out on Edinburgh, the picture across Scotland is varied. The national picture is a moderate overall increase of 6% on the same period last year.

There are significant differences between the use of stop and search in Scotland and in England and Wales in terms of legislation and crime patterns, so care should be taken in drawing comparisons. National reporting shows that, in England and Wales, 9% of stop-searches result in arrests but, in Scotland, there is a success rate of more than 21%. This represents an increase of more than one-quarter on last year and means that our officers are searching the right people, based on intelligence and analysis. Use of stop and search in an intelligence-led way, removing alcohol from those who are underage and removing drugs and weapons from similar groups is an effective tool in acting as a deterrent and tackling violent crime. This is crucial in our drive to reduce violence, particularly alcohol-fuelled violence.

Your editorial reflected the fact that the use of stop and search should always be lawful, proportionate, intelligence-led and respectful to the member of public involved ("Some searching questions for police", The Herald, August 21). Building public confidence is key to effective policing. We believe the proportionate use of stop and search as a policing tactic contributes effectively to taking weapons, knives and drugs off our streets. This keeps people much safer.

Wayne Mawson,

Assistant Chief Constable,

Local Policing, West,

Police Scotland, 173 Pitt Street, Glasgow.