MONDAY’S edition of The National contained two articles which demonstrated a general anti-police bias which the articles did not justify.

Kirsty Strickland’s piece “Tackling violence against women has to go much further than just Met Police” was, in the main, excellent, and I agree with much of what she says. However, she presented statistics about allegations of sexual misconduct in the Met Police over 11 years where “only” 83 out of 750 people lost their jobs. Her use of the word “only” suggests she thinks that many more should have been dismissed. I’m fairly certain Ms Strickland has not looked into any of the other cases but simply feels that if a police officer is accused of sexual misconduct, then it is probably true and warrants a sacking.

READ MORE: Kirsty Strickland: Tackling violence against women has to go much further than just Met Police

Stephen Paton’s article “You can’t rebuild trust in the police when it’s already lost” (Oct 4) highlights some appalling behaviour by UK police officers. However, to conclude from this that the majority of police officers cannot be trusted and to describe police forces across the UK as a “rotting institution” is bizarre.

Over the past few years there have been several reported cases of football coaches being guilty of abusing children. I was a community football coach for more than 20 years. Using Stephen Paton’s logic, I am not to be trusted with children. There have been some fairly recent cases of NHS nurses causing the deaths of patients. I presume if Stephen Paton requires hospital treatment they will “go private” – or am I being stupid?

I am not and never have been a police officer. However, I am fairly old and have met many. Some I liked and some I didn’t. Some did their job better than others. None of them were corrupt or “rotten”.

Douglas Morton

I NOTED with interest Cathie Lloyd’s letter (Oct 5) highlighting the dreadful atrocities committed by slave traders, and sadly some of them were Scots.

Perhaps it is worth reflecting on the treatment of Scots during the Highland Clearances, ie the period from the end of the 18th until late in the 19th century when Highland crofters were forcibly evicted from their crofts by landlords so that the land could be used for sheep and red deer.

Thousands of crofters were burned out of their homes and forced to emigrate, with many going to North America. This was a very dark period in Scotland’s history and epitomised in: “Man's inhumanity to man/Makes countless thousands mourn!”

The conditions on the emigrant ships were appalling. In 1801 the emigrant ship The Sarah sailed from Fort William in Scotland to Pictou in Nova Scotia. By contemporary laws, only 489 slaves would have been allowed to be carried in the ship’s holds. But no such laws applied to emigrants and almost 700 people were crammed into the ship, with nearly 50 people dying on the journey and countless others falling ill.

In spite of the hardships the emigrants longed for their homeland. A Lewis crofter, who had been forced to emigrate to Nova Scotia, wrote:

“From the lone sheiling of the misty island
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas –
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.”

Attitudes are difficult to change, and 100 years later at the beginning of the 20th century the Caledonian MacBrayne steamers that sailed between the Scottish mainland and the islands had a notice regarding third-class cabin accommodation. The notice read: “This cabin has accommodation for 90 third-class passengers when not occupied by sheep, cattle, cargo or other encumbrances”.

Thomas L Inglis

THERE has been a great deal of coverage in recent weeks about how overworked GPs are, but a key fact is always missing from the detail.

General practice is a contracted service within NHS Scotland. GPs are not directly employed, nor are their practice staff. GP practices are independent businesses contracted by the Scottish Government to provide services. Essentially these are private businesses contracted to be the “gatekeepers” of all access to the NHS.

The Scottish General Medical Services Contract (April 2018) is a joint agreement between the Scottish Government and the British Medical Association (BMA). Essentially it is a contract with a trade union, and a powerful union at that.

GPs get paid for what services they provide under the contract – for instance they can opt out of out-of-hours. Health visitors, district nurses, physios, mental health staff are all allocated to practices and directly employed by NHS Scotland. This can cause tension, for example if a district nurse (employed by the NHS) give a flu vaccine, the GPs get paid for that, so it’s double payment for the taxpayer.

The general public are unaware of this vital difference. Essentially GPs are a private contracted service which is controlling entry to our NHS in Scotland.

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