WITH the revelation from the departing Chief Constable of five years that the force he was in charge of is institutionally racist ("Chief of police defends probe into SNP", The Herald, May 26), one can only ask: if he knew this, what on earth was he doing about it? And if he didn't, why on earth not?

Either way, at the very least we deserve our money back. Whilst Scotland is suffering under various scandals, the head of the police admitting the force he led is racist before walking into the sunset with no repercussions is beyond parody.

Across Scotland those at the highest levels of organisations (think CMAL, Fergusons, the SNP, the Scottish National Investment Bank, Dargavel and of course the Scottish Government) now seem never be held accountable for their actions and lack of performance – it's one set of rules for us, and none for them.

What a sorry nation we have become where leaders are an example to no-one.

Jamie Black, Largs.

We get police we deserve

THE police have come in for some harsh criticism for some time now and a great deal of it is well deserved.

Yesterday's admission by Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingston that Police Scotland is institutionally racist, sexist, and homophobic adds fuel to the fire but may not be altogether helpful in the search for a long-term solution.

It is clear that a major reform is required throughout the whole of the UK.

However, before embarking on reform we should pause to look at the situation in a bit more depth, asking how and why our police forces got to this parlous state and accepting some inconvenient truths about our own behaviour and that of society as a whole rather than judging the institution in isolation.

Describing London’s or Scotland’s police as “rotten to the core” is unfair to the absolutely overwhelming majority of the many thousands of serving police officers who are not criminal, corrupt, racist or misogynistic. They do an extraordinary job protecting us every single day, sometimes running towards danger when we would run for cover.

We police by consent in the UK.

Our police force is drawn from and is part of our society. It is not not a remote Special Force living in barracks, doing a tour of duty, and then returning to barracks at the end of a shift. They live alongside us by agreement.

Police officers are our next-door neighbours. They drink in the same pub as us. They support the same football team as us. Their children go to the same school as ours, so before leaping to judge and punish we need to consider our own values and behaviour before setting standards for them. The leaders should then be held accountable for maintaining these standards, starting with new recruits but also with continuous appraisal of longer serving officers In a way we get the police force we deserve.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Read more: Police Scotland is 'institutionally racist' admits chief constable

Fishing can't go on as it is

NOWHERE in Struan Stevenson's article ("SNP must dump Greens and ditch disastrous protected marine areas", The Herald, May 24) did he suggest that, while the 10% of sea area proposed for a total ban on any and every activity involving sea harvesting is perhaps too much and not fully thought out, there is a clear need to do something, as continuing with present fish catching methods will be ultimately worse.

The evidence of the no-catch zone in Lamlash Bay is a benchmark example of what can be done by, in this case, the local community. It should and must be used as a model.

What I really don't get in Mr Stevenson's argument is his implication that bottom-trawling is acceptable. Hasn't he seen the devastation shown in many scuba divers' photography of the fatal damage that this type of fishing does? I would contend that if this method were to continue, the thousands of jobs that he asserts will be at risk will not be; they will be gone, totally.

I do accept his accusation that the SNP/Green coalition is not beneficial and is in fact dictatorial. They appear to have well-meaning intentions which they want to implement right now – regardless of the consequences to communities.

What is clear is that the Scottish Government needs to take a step back and be seen to be consulting with fishing communities and acknowledged experts in this industry and modify the HPMAs to suit what is actually needed.

Think of Iceland's cod wars and their success in getting a 200-mile limit. Iceland showed what could be done before this species was fished to extinction.

Mr Stevenson should write another column showing that he understands what is needed rather than hitting the standard "'them bad ... us better" button to frighten your readers. We are wiser than this.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.

The Herald: The Scottish Government's plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas have proved controversialThe Scottish Government's plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas have proved controversial (Image: PA)

Cash complaints ring hollow

ON a daily basis, SNP politicians bleat and blame Westminster about the being unable to complete projects and spend money on essential services because of lack of finance. On Question Time, on Debate Night, in any interview by commentators, the same party line is spouted.

Just recently we have seen “Air Miles Angus” Robertson jetting about the world at taxpayers' expense on some jolly; an independence minister has been appointed on a reported annual salary of £100,000. Roughly 20 civil servants are working courtesy of taxpayers' money to break up the United Kingdom. The ferries will cost at least £300 million over budget.

The failed vanity projects costing billions since 2014 are astonishing: Prestwick Airport, Police Scotland, a Scottish energy company, Scottish Stock Exchange, Gupta handout, Ferguson Marine, BiFab, the Rangers botched prosecution, the Salmond inquiry legal fees, foreign “embassies”, Named Person scheme, the Hate Crime Bill, the Scottish National Investment Bank, the DRS and on and on and on, the list is endless.

Had Nicola Sturgeon and her Government shown some real economic and financial probity since 2014, there would have been ample funds to avoid them having to blame the UK Government, but of course blame is in the SNP DNA.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

Read more: SNP must dump the Greens and ditch HPMAs

Growing menace of pavement cyclists

IN its rules for cyclists, the Highway Code states unequivocally “You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement”. It also advises cyclists to “take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room”.

Why, then, has 49 year-old Auriol Gray been jailed for three years for the manslaughter of 77-year-old Celia Wright who cycled towards her on the pavement (“Woman who caused cyclist to fall into road fails in bid to appeal against sentence”, The Herald, 20 May)? Ms Gray suffers from cerebral palsy, partial blindness and autism. Her only offence, as I understand it, is that she gestured and shouted at Mrs Wright to “get off the f****** pavement”. This simple act, we are told, caused Mrs Wright to fall off her bicycle into the roadway where she was killed by a car.

The judge who originally sentenced Ms Gray opined that her actions were not explained by her disabilities; his credentials in this subjective area of social science were not stated. One of the three Appeal Court judges who subsequently dismissed her appeal observed that “a blameless woman had been killed by the unlawful act of the applicant” and that the sentence “had to mark the gravity of the unlawful killing”. These apparently censorious remarks seem to imply that Ms Gray acted with malice aforethought, although no evidence to that effect was adduced. Equally, there was no evidence that the pavement in question was an established cycle lane.

For more than 20 years cycling on the pavement has been a fixed penalty offence with a maximum fine of £500. Sadly, the legislation is almost completely ignored by cyclists, and that abuse is widely condoned by police. Safe in that knowledge, inconsiderate cyclists career with impunity along pavements, showing little regard for the safety of the pedestrians who rightfully occupy that space or, crucially, for the vulnerability of disabled pedestrians like Ms Gray. This latest judgement can only serve to compound the dangerous and mistaken sense of entitlement and precedence already displayed by the many cyclists who routinely cycle illegally on pavements.

The Highway Code posits a hierarchy of road users which categorises pedestrians as being most at risk in the event of a collision; cyclists are placed second. Put simply, this means that, in any encounter between a pedestrian and a cyclist, the latter has a particularly responsibility towards the former. By that measure, Ms Gray’s conviction and imprisonment for manslaughter seem to me to be utterly perverse and deeply regrettable.

Iain Stuart, Glasgow.

Protest rights must be limited

IN the last paragraph of her column ("Protecting the right to protest is worth a little inconvenience", The Herald, May 26) Catriona Stewart states that "damaged flowerbeds and a little inconvenience are a small price to pay".

Damaging property belonging to others can never be justified regardless of what cause a protest is being held for.

And I'm sure all the users of the Dartford Crossing, when Stop Oil protesters caused mayhem there last October, would disagree that a little inconvenience is a small price to pay.

The right of people to protest is to be respected but it does not give them carte blanche to do whatever they want.

If Ms Stewart wishes to fling orange powder with abandon then she should do it in her own garden.

Brian Bell, Kinross.

Glasgow cafe culture shock

SO there we were in Glasgow city centre on a lovely afternoon on Thursday, stopped at a coffee shop on the north side of Royal Exchange Square just after 4pm.

My wife headed in to get two coffees; I hovered outside hoping to grab a table once folk who had finished their coffees stopped blethering and finally moved away.

Fifteen minutes later I got a table just as my wife came out, so we sat in the sun enjoying the weather and our coffees. At about 4:40pm a grumpy female staff member came round all tables, saying that she was folding up the tables in five minutes and taking them in.

A notice in the window stated that the cafe closes at 5:30.

What sort of impression does that give to tourists?

Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.

Green and blue?

I NOTE there is to be an Interpol conference in Glasgow next year. Will it be COP 24?

Rod MacCowan, Lennoxtown.