To: Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable, Police Scotland  

cc: Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary

From: Dr John Robertson, Professor of Media Politics and Chair of the University Research Ethics Committee, University of the West of Scotland (retired 2016)

Dear Mr Livingstone,

It is with great sadness that I write to you to complain of the inhumane treatment of peaceful anti-racist protesters in George Square today and the sharply contrasting failure to control the appalling racist riot by the National Defence League on Wednesday 17th June.

I write as a long-term defender of Police Scotland against media distortions, inaccuracies and unfairness, by elements within Scotland’s mainstream media. I count more than 100 reports in the last six years. Most recently:

Police Scotland ‘ahead of the game’ in human rights-based approach to implementing lockdown.

Concern as Herald misses chance to inform us on Police Scotland success:

BBC Scotland reporting on police budget increase only serves to scare us and not to inform:

On a personal level, my experience of your officers has always been good.

So, these events come as a shock to me, re-awakening the ghost of sectarianism, an all-too-real problem in Scotland’s police forces in the past but one which I had thought had been laid to rest. I make this point after observing the quite different treatment of protesters from the Protestant tradition on Wednesday and protesters from the Catholic tradition (Celtic FC Green Brigade) today.

As a long-lapsed member of the Church of Scotland and, today, a confirmed atheist, I have no agenda here.

Finally, there is a deep irony in that my last report was written to commend your force for their human rights-based approach to implementing the lockdown. The use of ‘kettling’ today with its risk of serious harm to both protesters and police, destroys that achievement.

Ten years ago, her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Denis O’Connor, described the ‘kettling’ technique as “inadequate” and belonging to a “different era” of policing.

Yours sincerely,

John Robertson