IoS letters, emails & texts (5 July 2009)

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I am writing to express concern about the cover story in last Sunday's New Review ("The war zone"). It offers a stark portrayal of a local community that I simply do not recognise – despite the fact that I work here.

I am the Operations Superintendent for Islington – responsible for frontline policing in the area of King's Cross featured in the piece. And, while it is a neighbourhood – like so many others – that has its challenges, the description of it as "a war zone" is both inaccurate and unfair.

The local community around the Caledonian Road is characterised by people who are committed to their neighbourhood. People involved with projects such as the Copenhagen Youth Project and Times Boxing Club invest an enormous amount in the lives of their young people.

Then there's the police Safer Neighbourhoods Team – dedicated officers working tirelessly to address the concerns of local residents. Alongside council youth workers, they remain a consistent and reassuring presence in an area that is undoubtedly "on the up". I'm a passionate policeman, and take very seriously our responsibility to serve local communities. That means reducing crime – as we have done here for the past five years – and it means building community confidence. So much here is changing for the better.

In one respect at least, I can agree with the author: I believe that there is immense hope for the young people growing up in this remarkable part of London.

Superintendent John Sutherland

Islington Borough Metropolitan Police

Your story "The war zone" suggested that the area and its young people have been all but abandoned to their fate, ignoring the huge amount of good work done locally. For example, hundreds of young people pass each year through the doors of the Copenhagen Youth Project in King's Cross, which offers everything from football to music and mentoring. The popular Spark Plug Project, just off Caledonian Road, teaches motorcycle mechanics, runs a youth club five nights a week and motorcycle riding trips at weekends.

Since 1927 the Times Amateur Boxing Club in King's Cross has given countless young people somewhere to go, whether to spar or play football. These projects have changed many lives for the better, and Islington Council actively supports the work they do.

A lot of people are working very hard to stop young people in King's Cross from falling through the cracks – please don't sell them or the young people short.

Cllr Terry Stacy Leader

Cllr Paul Convery Caledonian Ward Councillor, Islington Council

Father Jim Kennedy Parish Priest, King's Cross

I can think of three reasons that might explain the bizarre composition of your Pink List (28 June). The least charitable is that gays and lesbians do not teach, build, manufacture, research, or invent anything, and if it had been left to them we would still be living in caves hoping someone would discover fire. A more plausible explanation for the almost total bias towards arts, leisure and politics is that the list has been put together by journalists whose vision of the world is restricted to these sectors.

But sadly there is a more unpleasant and less trivial explanation. Perhaps outside these sectors, people are still not able to declare their sexuality openly without risking damage to their careers and livelihoods. I suspect that the rarefied world depicted by your list does not in any way reflect the everyday experiences of those who continue to cope with prejudice by disguising their true natures.

Dr C Ian Ragan

London SW10

As a gay man aged 19, I was disappointed by the choice of title for the Pink List. Your list featured politicians, famous faces in entertainment and corporate types. So why label them with the same camp "pink" tag which has previously suggested gay people were best suited to being hairdressers and cabin crew? While your list may appear to be celebrating our achievements, it also suggests in more subtle ways that we have a long way to go before we outlive our stereotypes.

Stefan Levy

via email

With reference to Andrew Johnson's article "I don't want to be judged on my looks" (28 June); if wearing a burqa or niqab inter alia demonstrates modesty and is an outward sign of spiritual devotion, why don't men wear them?

Amanda Farmer

Bishopsteignton, Devon

David Blunkett MP

Further to the reference in the paper on 14 June to Rebekah Wade allegedly hitting her first husband, Ross Kemp, after a "drinking bout" with David Blunkett, Mr Blunkett has been in touch to correct the record: "The alleged 'drinking bout' was a cup of tea at 5.30 in the evening (with witnesses including Rupert Murdoch)... There was no 'drinking bout', I've never been involved in such a 'drinking bout' – with or without Rebekah Wade."

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