IoS letters, emails and online postings (23 November 2014)

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The Independent Online

It is to be commended that Charlie Gilmour is taking Chris Grayling to task ("Mr Grayling, how do you account for these prison suicides?", 16 November). But the emotional and mental health problems that prompt self-harm start much earlier.

Children in custody will have experienced abuse and domestic violence, have learning or speech and language difficulties and untreated mental health problems. One fifth of them will have self-harmed and 11 per cent attempted suicide before they went into custody. These children need care, therapy and a regime that assists in their rehabilitation if they are not to continue to offend.

It is therefore of great concern that the plans to spend £87m on a "secure college" are being pushed through parliament. How can an establishment, designed to be a cheap option and holding more than 300 children aged 12 to 17, hope to address these complex issues? In particular, we learn that the secure college will allow force to be used to ensure "good order and discipline". A 14-year-old boy committed suicide in custody because he had been restrained for this purpose.

All the evidence tells us that warehousing children in a large establishment is more likely to increase the risk of self-harm and suicide, and will do nothing to reintegrate these children back into society.

Pam Hibbert, OBE

Chair, National Association for Youth Justice Professor Dame Sue Bailey

Chair Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition Peter Hindley

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Your editorial, "Summits need tact, not insults" (16 November) was spot on. President Putin was humiliated, whatever genuine opprobrium his actions in Ukraine may deserve, and he won't forget it when it comes to negotiating with the perpetrators.

Wars can be started by the ego posturing of heads of state, and they can escalate in no time at all. There never was a greater need for intelligent, mature statesmanship which recognises the underlying causes of conflict and seeks constructive ways to remedy what has become an unnecessarily dangerous situation. A little more mindfulness and a lot less Bullingdon.

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset

Your editorial alludes to the deal struck by China and the US over climate change but fails to mention that China's emissions will rise until 2030. Since 1990, annual emissions of carbon dioxide have risen by 60 per cent globally, and the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now passed 400 parts per million. Irreversible climate change will kick in at 450 ppm, a level which will be reached in 20 years, about the same time that China's emissions will peak. This deal is nothing more than posturing by the planet's two biggest polluters.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Joan Smith was wrong to characterise the Catholic Church as opposing human progress (16 November). At the time of Galileo's arrest, the correct model of the solar system was a matter of genuine debate. Galileo was badly treated but his dispute was (largely) as a result of a personal argument when he implied that the Pope was an idiot for believing the orthodox view.

The orthodox view had been developed mainly by Greek philosopher Ptolomy (not the Bible). It had held up to scrutiny for hundreds of years. Opponents of it had not been able to demonstrate that the Earth rotated at the enormous speed it would be required to (our experience is that we live on unmoving ground).

Adam Huntley

St Albans, Hertfordshire

I'm not much interested in football. The playing field is so uneven nowadays. However, I do enjoy another game called "The Rooney Count". Before you open a newspaper, you guess how many photos of Mr Rooney will be inside. It's always exciting and unlike football, involves minimal cost. Last week The Independent on Sunday managed six. I'd guessed seven. Never mind, better luck next time. It's almost as exciting as "The Cumberbatch Count"!

Pete Butchers

Meldreth, Cambridgeshire

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