Letter: All informers now

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Ruth Wyner and John Brock have a reputation for selfless dedication. On Friday at Cambridge Crown Court Judge Jonathan Haworth sentenced them to five and four years imprisonment respectively for "knowingly permitting" heroin to be supplied on the premises of the Wintercomfort centre.

As a solicitor, I am appalled at the judge's sentencing. It is self-evident that centres for the homeless will attract people with severe drink- and drug-related problems and it will always be a major task for managers of these centres to implement an effective anti-drug policy. The failure (if this was the case) of Mrs Wyner and Mr Brock to implement such a policy successfully does not make them hardened criminals.

I fail to understand how people with no criminal record and who acted with no criminal intent can be punished for their lack of judgement with the same severity as the drug dealers.

This sends a frighteningly negative message to charity workers generally. The Government's expressed intention is to remove the homeless off the streets; such judicial intervention is bound to frustrate the task.