Letter: What chance a people's police?

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IT MAY well be that the failure of the police in solving the murder of Stephen Lawrence was due more to incompetence than racism. Geoffrey Robertson's suggestion, however, that a French investigative magistrate would have found evidence in a matter of days contradicts the facts in many murder inquiries in that country and others. The Dutroux scandal in Belgium is a typical and tragic example of the failings in this system.

The relationship between the examining magistrate and the investigating force has been the source of many delays, especially in the vital first 48 hours, in our experience since the murder of our daughter, Joanna, over nine years ago. Similar failures have been apparent in more recent times with the murders of Caroline Dickinson and Roderick Henderson. The secrecy and lack of public accountability in the French system is also a characteristic we should not envy, however much we examine the deficiencies in our own methods.

ROGER PARRISH

Newnham-on-Severn, Glos

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