THE article on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the unique Scottish Children’s Hearing system was a timely reminder that big changes can happen (“Scots child hearing system adapts in Covid times in its 50th year protecting young”, April 17).

At a time when, even pre-Covid, there was a crisis situation in our courts with long delays, clumsy procedures, limited disposals, it is a source of regret that we seem very short of radical action.

The Kilbrandon approach was brave and visionary. I recall at the time that it met with strong opposition as well as strong support.

Certain newspapers and politicians campaigned vigorously against it on the grounds that it would undermine discipline and the distinction between ‘right and wrong’.

What a pity that Holyrood wasted all that time on the unnecessary Hate Crime Bill when it could have focused on how we reform our adult system. Too much gesture policy-making and not enough reform of substance. I suppose gestures are cheaper and easier.

An adult version of the Children’s Hearing system would be a much more appropriate way of dealing with many cases instead of the rigid formal court setting.

Many of the verbal ‘hate crime’ offences come into this category, minor vandalism and the lower level of conflict offences.

There are those who will suggest that this is escaping justice, just as they did in relation to the Kilbrandon proposals. It should, rather, be seen as a significant step towards developing a more meaningful and flexible approach to justice and freeing space in our formal court system.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.


IN response to Vicky Allan (“Why David Attenborough’s wishing humans away doesn’t help”, April 19), I understand her distress at David Attenborough’s documentary.

I have been an active environmental campaigner for 40 years, and I have tried my best to explain the connection between human beings and the planet to people around me, ending up very frustrated and angry.

One of my fellow campaigners blames David Attenborough for the fact that it only seems to be in the last few years that the extent of the threat has come to the front pages. He made his documentaries, but it was as if he left his audience to work out what was required without doing what groups like Extinction Rebellion are doing – active resistance.

Another friend didn’t know anything about the environmental threat till she watched Attenborough’s recent documentaries. I explained that it is not in the interests of big business for us to know what is happening.

The parents of Greta Thunberg and Finlay Pringle, the 13-year-old activist from Ullapool, have both been interviewed on Radio Scotland. Greta’s father and Finlay’s mother said the same thing – that they didn’t get so depressed as long as they were doing something.

Vicky says “what we need now is a vibrant and tangible vision of a world where both can exist”. I agree wholeheartedly, so I would urge her to join a group in her local area to work in a small way in a small area.

If you keep a massive problem at the front of your mind, it will always be too big to tackle. Make your own vision of what a just society looks like, and every day concentrate on that vision until it stays in your view all day, every day. We all must imagine a better world and it will come to pass if enough of us do it.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


WHILE there are many actions we can take on Earth Day (22 April) to help the environment – including recycling, using water sparingly, and helping to preserve forests – we must also acknowledge that we cannot call ourselves environmentalists while still eating meat.

If we wish to protect the Earth – and all the sentient beings who reside here – we must stop supporting industries that raze forests, pollute land and waterways, waste water, and generate enormous amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions. We can shun all these industries in one fell swoop by going vegan.

University of Oxford researchers say that avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce our impact on the planet. It is far more effective than reducing flights or opting for an electric car, because it addresses pollution, resource use, and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Of course, the emissions-reduction potential of vegan eating alone is significant: Oxford Martin School scientists have stated that a global move towards eating fruit and vegetables – and away from consuming meat and dairy – could reduce food-related emissions by two-thirds.

While small steps towards greener living – like shorter showers, energy-efficient light bulbs, and hybrid cars – can help, they don’t have anywhere near the impact of switching to compassionate vegan meals. Help the Earth while reducing animal suffering and doing your part to prevent future animal-borne diseases by going vegan this Earth Day.

Jennifer White, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals





Are we now experiencing a kind of Scottish version of ‘estuary English’? The First Minister, on Tuesday, thanked us for ‘joinin’ her and that ‘Sco’lan’ looks forward to ‘openin’ up..

The dropping of the final ‘g’ and the omission of ‘t ‘continued throughout her performance; sadly, this is happening more and more, with many commentators, broadcasters and politicians contributing to this careless way of speaking.

Isobel Hunter, Lenzie.


FOR the first time in its history, participants in the British Town Crier Competition will remain silent and be judged on written submissions only, due to Covid. The world has gone mad.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.