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Law seems to favour criminals.

Look up at the roof of London's Old Bailey. There stands the figure of Justice Blindfold, holding in her hand scales to represent justice, in the other hand a sword.

If you look closely, you'll see the sword she holds is a double-edged one, which, over the years, seems to be cutting in favour of the villains, not the victims, thanks to greedy lawyers who swell their bank accounts and the Crown Prosecution Service. A better title would be the Criminal Perpetrators' Service, don't you think?

Consider the on-off case of the bus driver involved in the road accident which killed Cecil Gilbert, 92, and his wife, 82. Then we have the two individuals who escaped punishment over the death of 73-year-old Jimmy Mulligan. Not content with that, one of the said individuals, Robert Webber, gave a two-fingered salute outside the courts.

Another story concerns a refugee family. The woman runs one of Britain's most prolific pick-pocketing gangs, and is dubbed a modern Fagin because she gets her children to steal from tourists. Her nine-year-old and 12-year-old daughters, together with other youngsters, prey on tourists, escaping with community punishments at a string of youth courts.

One policeman said: "There is a revolving door syndrome in the courts. We pick them up for seven or eight offences at a time and then they come out again. They are at it daily, if not hourly."

So what's happened to justice in this once great country of ours? Now I know why sharks never attack lawyers and members of the justice system. Professional courtesy!

MR R SMITH, Nicholson Terrace, Forest Hall.

Let's put the sport fans first

I WATCHED the programme concerning footballers' agents, or people who act on behalf of clubs requiring decent-class players who are supposed to be registered with the Football Association.

It seems there is a lot left to be desired, firstly from these so-called agents and secondly from the FA, which leaves the real faithful supporters, people who have to graft for an honest day's pay, very heavily out of pocket.

The lifeblood of sport in this country and, for that matter, across the globe, is the paying public. It is the most important body to be consulted on all things to do with any sport, so it's quite logical there should be public representation, i.e.. supporters' clubs and associations at the heart of all decisions by the FA and other bodies running other sports.

Surely one must think:: Are these so-called agents really that vital to clubs' existence? Surely these so-called agents wield far too much power.

Surely a fairer system could be worked out whereby clubs throughout the country and the world could liaise through local and world bodies such as the FA without any outside influence, i.e.. agents etc. on these recognised bodies. Players for transfer should only go through these, who in turn would negotiate with interested clubs and settle terms and all things to do with moving from one club to another. This could regulate who gets what and look after the players' interests into the bargain.

No matter what one says or thinks, this sore question of players' agents must be tackled head-on.

The public must be protected from unscrupulous people who don't have sporting interests and are only looking for the fast, easy buck. People who even push rubbishy players whom, without doubt, we've seen at different clubs, especially Sunderland, while taking huge fees for doing so, as the programme pointed out so glaringly.

I say the ball is firmly at the feet of the FA. It's time it took decisive action to stop the rot in our national game. The public are paramount.

RAYMOND BAYS, Avon Road, Hebburn.

Immigration has its limits

The proverbial cat is now most definitely out of the bag as far as this government's approach to immigration is concerned.

The statement by Home Secretary David Blunkett that there is no natural limit to the level of inward migration will alarm the vast majority of the population, for whom this issue is of major concern. The notion that we can accommodate unlimited numbers of people to settle in what is already one of the most densely populated countries in the world represents the economics of the madhouse.

The pressure for more homes, roads, airports, schools and hospitals will intensify further, with few offsetting benefits for the resident population.

The Freedom Association wants an informed debate about the consequences of population growth; we also believe it is essential to our democratic freedom that the British people are given a clear choice.

At present, none of the political parties has resolved to restrict the tide of immigration, which is increasing the population by 200,000 every year. The Freedom Association campaign for free speech on population growth and its consequences will therefore continue with the twin aims of stimulating further debate and protecting the rights of the existing population of the United Kingdom.

PHILIP J DULY, campaign manager, The Freedom Association.

Prison deaths are a disgrace

I AM writing in response to the tragic death on November 12 of Wendy Booth, 35, who was found hanging in her cell at Durham Prison.

The death of Ms Booth brings the number of women to die in British prisons this year to 13 and, once again, brings into question the legal duty of care owed to inmates by HM Prison Service.

Prisoners are held accountable for the wrongs they have committed.

Who is to be held accountable for these 13 tragic deaths, some of which have resulted in children being left motherless children?

I know nothing about Ms Booth's background, other than that she had been sentenced for a serious offence.

It needs to be stated, though, that 70 per cent of female prisoners suffer from two or more mental health disorders

Research suggests that prisoners are twice as likely to be refused treatment for mental health problems inside prison than outside.

There is a shortage of mental health professionals working in prisons, and prison regimes do little to address the mental health needs of prisoners.

Prisons are overcrowded, underfunded and understaffed and yet, earlier this year, contrary to logical expectation, the Home Office announced that the prison population is set to increase by 6,000 over the next three years.

A more humane and effective way of dealing with women offenders must be pursued, otherwise the disturbing increase in the number of female inmates taking their own lives is set to continue.

This will continue to reflect shame on a government which lacks the political will to deal with what has become an appalling situation.

PAULINE B CAMPBELL, Malpas, Cheshire.

Get queuing for this treat

THIS is the second letter I have written to you about Fenwick's windows as this year I do think they have excelled themselves.

I was there the first day this year and, having been in town daily, I have joined the queue again and again as children and family get together as the windows tell the story as it was years ago - carol singing, all the animals joining in and Santa coming down the chimney. I pass the windows twice a day and I join the queue, singing with the children and music. It all lends itself to a wonderful start to Christmas. Best wishes to you all, and many thanks. God bless.

WINIFRED LEYBURN, Borrowdale Avenue, Walkerdene, Newcastle.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2003
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