It seems that the police are now being used as an ancillary social work service by those who cannot access mental health or addiction support or an ambulance when needed. Demand, when not assuaged, leaks into areas other than those designated for meeting it. This is in addition to the extra duties imposed on police through the Hate Crime Act and the Gaelic Language Plan, under which the police service is to promote the use of Gaelic.
Perhaps, though, Lorna Slater, Green MSP and minister, has a solution. She says: “Using drugs becomes dangerous when the drugs are illegal because you can’t get them safely.” Decriminalising drug use and sale would lift a burden from the police force and enable it to concentrate on acting as a back up ambulance service.
That would absolve the Minister of Health, and the SNP administration in general, from having to try to find a solution to the chronic problems it presides over with inadequate mental health and addiction services and an ambulance service that is overwhelmed.
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh
A dose of the ‘flue’
I was very pleased to receive my vaccination appointment letter today from Dona Milne, Director of Public Health and Health Policy at NHS Lothian. However I was surprised to learn I was getting a ‘flue’ as opposed to a flu vaccine as I was not aware that such outlets carried a risk for which there was a vaccine.
Needless to say when I go for my injection I shall be checking that the vaccinator is not humming “Chim Chim Cher-ee” under his breath and also does not look like Dick Van Dyke holding ready for insertion a syringe in the shape of a miniature chimney cleaning brush.
Alan Black, Edinburgh
Follow the rules
A large gathering such as COP26 does carry a risk of increasing infection rates. Scotland is already enforcing mask wearing on transport and in many indoor settings – plus vaccine passports at clubs etc. Not all visitors, even from England, will be familiar with these rules.
Will there be "Welcome" signage on border roads, at airports and at stations to make sure that incoming travellers know that these rules exist and are legal requirements?
Patrick Walker, Edinburgh
Bad for your health
Last Friday all six Scottish Tories joined a Westminster majority to reject an amendment to stop private water companies in England from dumping raw sewage into rivers and seas.
Until the 1980s providing clean water was a public health service in England. But in 1989 the Tories privatised England’s water. It’s now managed by nine foreign-owned companies.
One, Southern Water, is ranked one of the UK’s worst utility companies. The company’s pipes leak 88.1 million litres of water a day. In 2019 it was fined £126 million for dumping sewage and misreporting its performance. Just 16 per cent of England’s water bodies are in good health.
By contrast, Scottish Water remains in public hands and is ranked the top UK utility company. It delivers 1.5 billion litres of fresh drinking water to 2.56 million households and 152,806 businesses and removes and cleans nearly a billion litres of waste water daily. As a result, 66 per cent of Scotland’s water bodies are healthy.
Remaining in a Union intent on privatising any remaining public services is a danger to Scotland’s health and wellbeing.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh