Letters: Child detention

There are alternatives to locking up children

Share
Related Topics

Mary Dejevsky ("It's not only the young who suffer", 15 December), accuses those campaigning for an end to child detention of being simultaneously guileless, cynically selective in their empathy, and avaricious. As a coordinator of End Child Detention Now – no paid staff and no interest in infiltrating anyone's wallets – might I respond to her charges?

Opponents of child detention urge the Government to look seriously at community-based alternatives. Countries such as Sweden and Canada do not have an "open borders" policy, but they manage to keep children and their parents out of high-security detention facilities.

Keeping a family of four in Yarl's Wood costs £3,640 a week. If that money was used to prepare families for their eventual return in supported community accommodation (such as the current Glasgow pilot) and to provide support and monitoring post-removal, a higher rate of voluntary returns might result—as it does in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Even the UK Border Agency admits that detention serves primarily as a deterrent to would be asylum-seekers, and that families are unlikely to abscond.

Ms Dejevsky says that some individuals who present as minors turn out not to be. It is also the case that some detained as adults turn out to be minors. Notwithstanding that, UKBA is for no good reason detaining large numbers of children and babies, causing them significant harm.

We focus on children because they are the most vulnerable. We have seen at first hand the traumatic impact of detention on parents and children alike. Had Mary Dejevsky spoken to such a family she might not be so quick to condemn those who raise their voices in protest.

Simon Parker

End Child Detention Now, York

Mary Dejevsky believes "Children's writers have been discovering a new activist side recently". I suspect many of us who signed the open letter against detention of child asylum seekers have exercised our democratic rights to engage in public discourse for somewhat longer than she may remember. Perhaps Ms Dejevsky feels that children's writers should sit at "the little people's table" and keep their mouths shut?

Beverley Naidoo

Bournemouth

Emission targets cannot be final

It would be unfortunate if the Copenhagen talks failed on the question of 1.5C versus C as a long-term target.

The driving force behind the talks is the desire to avoid dangerous or catastrophic climate change, and there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the level of danger associated with different temperature changes. If a treaty is signed committing the world to a C rise, with no mechanism for revision, we may find ourselves on a path to destruction.

Our understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change is advancing rapidly now that they are real and observable; it is surely essential that any global deal should reflect this ever-improving knowledge base and allow for any target to be adjusted as understanding improves.

Martin Juckes

Reading

Gordon Brown's largesse in donating billions of our money to helping poor countries combat global warming, despite the fact that we are almost bankrupt, could be the first sign of reality penetrating his massive ego.

Maybe he has now realised that Labour is facing defeat in next year's election, so he can sign cheques with impunity knowing that it will not be he who has to pick up the tab.

Roger Earp

Sheffield

As a fully paid-up grumpy old man (letters, 9 December) I suggest that age brings the ability to distinguish between undisputed scientific fact (for example, that the earth revolves around the sun, or that an explosion of hydrogen and oxygen will produce water vapour), and scientific opinion (that thalidomide is a harmless drug; that the universe exists in a steady state; that another ice age is imminent; that millions will die from BSE, avian flu, etc.)

Anyone born before 1960 will have heard all these assurances from respected scientists during their lifetime, and is right as a result to be sceptical.

On balance, it is highly likely that we as a species desperately need to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, just as we need to reduce overfishing, deforestation and the frighteningly rapid extinction of other species, all of which are largely caused by human overpopulation, economic growth and the consequent pollution. Losing the bee could cause more damage to the ecosystem than that projected by the rise in sea-levels from global warming.

Although as a member of the human race I hate the idea, the elimination of excess numbers of our species by flood, famine, disease and war is not necessarily the worst thing that could happen for the world as a whole, and might dispassionately be viewed as nature rediscovering its equilibrium.

David Burton

Wellington, Shropshire

In your leading article of 12 December about the need for better political leadership on climate change, you make a very valid point about the need to give a positive picture about the possibilities.

The threat of climate change invokes a huge amount of fear in people that needs to be brought out and faced, urgently. Otherwise people will continue to do what they always do when threatened: to play ostrich and hope that it will go away. And taking comfort from the climate deniers just exacerbates this tendency.

So please let us have the potential benefits put out there, centre stage, with some concrete examples that people can envisage and take heart from.

Mora McInytre

Hove, East Sussex

Why are offices and houses heated so that people can go about in shirt sleeves? If everyone took to wearing a sweater, and even, dare I say, long johns, we could all turn down our heating by a couple of degrees. That would provide about a 20 per cent reduction in global warming immediately.

David Foster

Whatfield, Suffolk

Advantages of a single-sex school

In the 1950s, as a pupil at a convent school, I had no idea how much I would come to value my single-sex education (letter, 8 December). It had its undoubted drawbacks, notably the complete absence of sex education plus a lack of contact with boys for those of us who boarded, which made "dating" a real challenge for some of us when we left.

What it did give us was a sense that there was nothing closed to us academically, and we were encouraged to fulfil our potential, whatever it happened to be. We had science, arts and maths to A- and S-levels. Physics, chemistry and zoology sat happily alongside French, geography, English literature and other, less academic, subjects.

I don't share any of the religious beliefs of the women who taught me but I have no doubt that they provided an education more valuable than I ever could have imagined.

Paula Jones

London SW20

There is something surreal about the continuing debate about single-sex versus co-educational schools.

The single-sex education system which developed in the United Kingdom was largely the result of the "public" schools imitating the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and the grammar schools imitating the public schools. The paradox now is that virtually all Oxbridge colleges have become co-educational, while certain outposts of our secondary-education system persist in trying to find a virtue in single-sex education.

Is it not extraordinary that, given that the whole of one's life will be spent dealing with both sexes, we go on making a case that, when 11- to 18-year-olds step over the threshold of school, it is better for their development that they relate only to peers of their own sex? If education involves drawing out qualities that lead to emotional as well as intellectual development, then single-sex education is a contradiction in terms.

Ben Taylor

Wells, Somerset

Best to turn yourself in

Interpol does not have a Most Wanted List ("I'm on Interpol's most wanted list, but the police won't arrest me", 12 December). Interpol does however publish the names of all those persons wanted for arrest by an Interpol member country whose name and/or face that member country wants to make public

Roddy Bassett's name is simply included among the names of all the other persons wanted for arrest via Interpol (including dangerous criminals) when the country seeking an individual's arrest (in this case Dubai/UAE) wants to make his name public.

Since Mr Bassett publicly acknowledges in the article that he is wanted for arrest in Dubai for fraud, he cannot complain that Interpol's website made his name public. Fraud is a serious matter in any country. Mr Bassett has had three years to resolve this problem by contacting the Dubai rental agency to explain what happened. The onus has been on him to resolve the matter.

When any individual has a problem with information published on Interpol's website, we always do our best to help resolve such issues. Interpol has contacted the authorities in Dubai. It is confident that, if the only charge against Mr Bassett involves the fraud outlined in the article, then, upon payment of his £800 fine and of all outstanding sums owed, Dubai would drop criminal charges against Mr Bassett, and his name would be removed from Interpol's list of persons wanted for arrest.

We therefore advise Mr Bassett or his legal representative to contact the Dubai police or Interpol's Office of Legal Affairs.

Pietro Calcaterra

Public Affairs Office

Interpol, Lyon, France

We actually like to pay by cheque

I am the honorary treasurer of a small charity with 57 members. Most of our members pay their subscriptions by cheque, and I pay most of our outgoings by cheque, as this is the easiest and most convenient method for those involved.

Any move by the big banks to abolish cheques will make life unnecessarily difficult for us, and I suspect that many small charity organisers would resign rather than put up with what the banks wish to impose on them.

Instead of abolishing a payment method which has served well for many years, perhaps the banks could direct their effort into finding why a direct online payment takes three days to filter through their systems.

Sam Boote

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

Briefly...

Seasonal cheer

As the grandmother of two redheads who are seriously unlovable at times, I find it warmingly reassuring to read that "Santa loves kids. Even ginger ones" ("Even Christmas cards are now obscene", 16 December).

Elizabeth Crawford

Bickley, Kent

Black Jesus

It is actually worse than the Italian Northern League thinks ("Black Jesus outrages Italy's Northern League", 15 December). According to the book of Genesis, God created Adam (and Eve) in His image. They went about naked in Eden, where it was warm and sunny, but there is no mention of either sun block or sun-burn. The only conclusion is that Adam and Eve were black, and therefore, so is God.

Peter Slessenger

Reading

Try this for size

While I agree with nearly all the sentiments expressed by Howard Jacobson in his piece (12 December) concerning giving and receiving at Christmas, any fool, especially boys of a certain generation, knows that the substance used to stiffen the tissue paper covering the fuselage of model aeroplanes is called "dope", not "size". The meaning of this word changed significantly for the children of the Fifties as they grew out of making models and entered their adolescence in the Sixties, when the models were to be found in Carnaby Street.

Nick Bell

Oxford

End of terms

One of the literary landmarks of the last decade has been the intermsofisation of the English language. Your essay on the new world order manages three of these horrors (Life, 7 December): ". . .in terms of history . . . in terms of hard – that is, military – power . . . in terms of military execution". For your New Decade resolution may I suggest a ban on "in terms of" from your pages?

Damien Maguire

Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland

Spread the blame

I agree that the bankers were largely to blame for the credit crunch, but is it not fair, if we are going to extract retribution via taxation, that the politicians look at their own role? A one-off tax levy on them would then put them on a par with the bankers.

Andrew Foster

Bradninch Devon

I'm thinking of hanging a banker on the tree this Christmas.

Gordon Whitehead

Copt Hewick, North Yorkshire

React Now

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

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - IT Managed Services - £65,000

£35000 per annum + OTE £65,000 +Pension: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Industrial Gas Burner Engineer

£26000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Industrial Gas Burner Engine...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Inside Sales Manager - Accountancy Software - £80,000 OTE

£50000 - £60000 per annum + £80,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

Day In a Page

Read Next
More vegetarian and vegan options are now available for consumers  

The stereotypes around vegetarians and vegans must stop: I've never worn tie-dye, I'm not weak, and I can't stand Morrissey

Liz Cookman
 

You wouldn't give your child untested medicine, so why would you give them an untested education?

Oliver Wright
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital