The huge increase in official estimates of slavery in the UK, as captured by the Home Office's "dark figures" ("There are up to 13,000 slaves trapped in UK", 30 November), reveals just how blind society has been to these crimes in the past. Instead of being helped by police and the Borders Agency, many trafficked victims face prosecution, deportation, and the risk of being re-trafficked – meaning they are often reluctant to testify against their perpetrators and their ordeals are never captured by official figures. The Modern Slavery Bill needs to urgently address this by increasing awareness of slavery within all communities, and putting victims first to ensure they receive lasting support. Until then, this horrific crime will continue to lurk in the shadows.
Chief executive Housing for Women, London SW9
Opponents of fracking in North Yorkshire have received critical support from the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport, whose recent report described fracking as an unproven technology carrying similar risks to CFCs, asbestos, smoking and lead in petrol ("Fracking firm's plans criticised", 30 November). This fatally undermines the Government's current policy which is to promote fracking at the expense of energy conservation and renewables. But Government policy does not stop at promoting the wrong business model. It also seeks to remove environment-friendly MPs from the ranks of the Conservative Party. Both Tim Yeo, chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, and Anne McIntosh, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, have been deselected by their local Conservative Associations. Ms McIntosh is the local Yorkshire MP who has opposed fracking in her constituency, while Mr Yeo has been outspoken in his support for renewables. It appears that sustainable development is incompatible with being a Conservative MP.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
DJ Taylor points out that snobbery in British society has a long history and is still very much with us ("From Strood to No 10, we love a snob story", 30 November). Much of it is to do with class difference and division, which must be of some concern to those who think that class is no longer much of a factor in Britain. What Taylor doesn't address is that the flip side of snobbery, deference to authority and one's alleged betters, is in fact very largely dead and the country is certainly the better for it.
I read about homeless veterans in absolute amazement (Christmas Appeal, 30 November). We should scrap Trident and not buy any more weapons (apart from those needed for national security) until every returning soldier is housed and given a pension.
You report that "party leaders David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have already pledged their support to the Homeless Veterans appeal" (30 November). But surely our parliamentarians ought to be the working to ensure that ex-servicemen get looked after without having to rely on charity?
Kim Carnell should be advised to buy her daughter a train set from an independent model railway shop, where she will receive good advice to get her daughter started on what could prove to be a life-long hobby ("Why should boys have the best train sets?" 30 November). There have been some very good women modellers over the years. Although men are in the majority, don't let that put you off. Incidentally, Ms Carnell's daughter will become competent in a variety of skills, from electrical wiring of layouts to model-making; life long skills. Who knows, she may become a scientist.
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