IoS letters & emails, 21 September 2008

Related Topics

The exact circumstances leading to the death of Mark Saunders are under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and everyone must wait for its findings. ("The killing of Mark Saunders: 'Those responsible should be tried and sent to prison'", 14 September). Continued speculation about the events of that day and the actions of my officers is at least unhelpful and at worst could damage Londoners' confidence in our ability to protect them. The men and women who carry firearms are all volunteers. They risk their lives to protect the public and unarmed colleagues from the armed criminals and life-threatening situations, are trained to the highest standards, have extensive skills and are obliged to account in law for all of their actions. My officers respond to over 1,000 calls a months to potentially dangerous firearms situations, but the use of lethal force is extremely rare.

Jerry Savill

Commander, Central Operations, Metropolitan Police

London SW1

A shotgun has a lethal range of 40 metres – if the cartridge contains bird shot. However, if it contains a solid slug, it will easily penetrate armour at about 50 metres. We do not know at this stage what type of shot was in Mark Saunders' cartridges. No one, above all police officers charged with upholding the law, have any desire to take a life, and those who voluntarily undertake firearms duties are fully aware of the responsibilities they hold, and what they may be called upon to justify.

Sergeant Cliff Elam

Twickenham, Middlesex

Last year in Lambeth we carried out the country's biggest-ever research and consultation exercise to understand the root causes of youth violence ("Grim teenage murder toll as knife victim dies", 14 September). Contrary to your article, our research did not find that Lambeth gangs are responsible for 20 per cent of crime in London, but it did show where we need to focus our effort to reduce violent youth crime. It remains our priority to get the worst offenders off our streets while protecting our young people.

Cllr Steve Reed

Leader, Lambeth Council

London SW2

Alaska's magnificent and varied landscapes, along with an abundance of wildlife and natural resources, are some of the reasons Mrs Palin was a dangerous choice for Governor of Alaska, and a potentially lethal choice for the person a heartbeat from the presidency ("No woman is an island, Mrs Palin", 14 September). Her respect for Alaska extends only to the money she can make from its oil and timber, with no regard to the damage the relentless drilling and cutting has done to its precious and fragile environment. Our national parks have suffered already under eight years of the Bush administration – a President Palin could spell the end of Yellowstone or Yosemite, and would be especially deadly when moulding US policies regarding global warming.

The outcome of this election will affect the world, and those who support Obama and who want the nightmare to end must choose their words carefully. The McCain campaign will no doubt use the article as further proof that supporters of Obama are sneering snobs.

Patricia Sheehan


Professor James Hansen is right to call for a worldwide programme of planting trees to use as fuel, with carbon capture and storage being used when the wood is burned ("Phase out coal and burn trees instead, urges leading scientist", 14 September). Another way to remove carbon is carbon scrubbing, which uses sodium hydroxide solution to absorb carbon dioxide. 2% For The Planet calls on the UK government to invest 1 per cent of national income in carbon removal while inviting individuals to contribute 1 per cent of income to the fund. Economic problems now are as nothing compared with the economic and other damage that climate change will cause.

Richard Mountford

Founder, 2% For The Planet

Tonbridge, Kent

If the Damien Hirst backlash ("A Hirst original", 14 September) becomes financially embarrassing for the great man, there is a huge untapped popular market available. Millions of ordinary people would love to have access to the Hirst magic. A goldfish in formaldehyde could sit on every mantelpiece and a plastic skull studded with cheap fake diamonds would raise issues of life and death in every sitting room. As for the spot paintings, these could be made accessible to the average punter by selling them as individual spots. Come on, Damien: the demand is there. Seaside resorts, fairgrounds, the shopping channel – the people's Sotheby's so to speak – are ready and waiting. There has always been a market for tat.

John Newsinger


I am writing this on my PC and I will look for an acknowledgement on my BlackBerry when I reach my hotel, but I also read and write novels (Books Special, The New Review, 14 September).

The greatest challenge to the book is not information technology but the incoherent vandalism that is marginalising reading for pleasure in our schools and libraries. Book stock in public libraries has fallen by 26 per cent in the past 10 years. During a similar period, the number of library staff fell 13 per cent. School libraries are being closed and replaced by shiny ICT suites when we should be integrating the book and computer in a managed symbiosis. Our children are reading fewer whole books and more excerpts, not because of the pressure of ICT but because the curriculum has been designed that way. The less well-off suffer disproportionately in such a situation.

That is why I have launched the Campaign for the Book supported by Michael Rosen, Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Sue Palmer, Beverley Naidoo, and 400 others. The gold standard is a society where people are equally at home reading deliciously long, challenging books and the computer screen. It is something we may have to fight for.

Alan Gibbons

Campaign for the Book


If we changed to a phonetic spelling of all our wayward words, I would be in trouble, because I am used to recognising a word without noticing its phonetic bits ("Through or thru ...?", 14 September). It was easy for the Spanish Academy to introduce in the mid-19th century a completely phonetic spelling of its written language. No mass protests were recorded, because most people could not read. Spanish texts are phonetically logical. Ours are etymologically logical.

James Connolly

Eccles, Manchester

A very good address

Those who know how to pronounce Georgiana may regard those who do not as "oiks", but the naming of an important historical character is a matter of correctness ("Through or thru? Plow or plough?...", 14 September). In her time, the only pronunciation by people of any class of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire [portrayed by Keira Knightley in 'The Duchess'] would be "Jor-jay-na". The same goes for Mr Darcy's sister Georgiana in 'Pride and Prejudice'.

James Snowden


Have your say: email (no attachments, please), or join the readers' debate on the Message Board at

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence