Letters: Law enforcers have the look of intimidation

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 5 August, 2013

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Your leader “Politics of fear” (3 August) could not have had a more apt title, for it appears that the powers that be are set on a course of law enforcement by intimidation. The current policy of stopping people to check their residential status is but one such measure.

Another which appears to have spread throughout our law enforcement agencies is intimidation through appearance. I witnessed recently an unmarked police car stopping a car, in itself not unusual; what attracted my attention was the uniform worn by the policeman. While I appreciate the need to be able to pursue and defend oneself, is it necessary to have military-style, high, lace-up boots, combat trousers and skin-fitting T-shirt, all in black?

Combined with the gear officers now carry over a stab vest, including what appeared to be a side arm, this can only create a sinister and intimidating appearance.

When did our police become a paramilitary force? Such “uniform” is also worn by Border Agency staff, presumably having the same impact on the public at large. Perhaps I am being oversensitive or even nostalgic for the old days, but such an appearance by the security agencies does nothing to create a good relationship between them and the community they serve.

Without that relationship, law and order soon break down, which could lead to even more draconian laws. It is therefore in the interests of us all that the police  take note of how they are perceived by the public at large. Walk down any high street and if you do see a policeman on foot patrol, the chances are that he will not wear the traditional bobby’s helmet but be dressed as if about to tackle an assault course. 

Peter Stevens , Broadhempston, Devon


So now it’s clear. The Conservative Party is prepared to risk 50 years of progress in race relations in order to get itself re-elected.

For Tory MPs to gloat that Nick Clegg has walked into the trap of objecting to the Home Office’s latest tactics shows exactly what is going on.

Lynton Crosby appears to be dictating policy. I respect Owen Jones’s view that Conservatives aren’t evil (“Demonising the Tories only hides the real problem with our society”, 22 July)  but I find it difficult to avoid using that word to describe the deliberate stirring up of hatred in order to hold on to power.

The parallels in history are obvious and frightening.

Derek Chapman, Warnford, Hampshire


The report that immigration officials have allegedly been racially profiling commuters at Tube stations ought to cause concern (“Home Office may have broken law in hunt for immigrants”, 3 August).

It seems unlikely that the Metropolitan or British Transport police forces would engage in such a legally dubious practice.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating. But it is incomprehensible that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration does not appear to consider reviewing the UK Border Agency’s recent activities as a priority.

Jon Mack, London EC4


I’m an immigrant and I teach law at Oxford. My closest colleagues are black and brown immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. The last free act of 26 of my Lithuanian family members was to show their papers in 1941. Theresa May, search my papers and make my day.

Andrew Shacknove, Oxford


Assisted dying is far from easy choice

I have an experience of the NHS, in relation to the death of an elderly parent, opposite to that of Ruth Hair (letter, 3 August), but one that has left me with a lasting legacy of equal emotions.

I sat with my 92-year-old dad (a man who was afraid of dying and didn’t want to go) for a whole week while he faded away from kidney failure.

When he was admitted, the consultant told us there was nothing more they could do, having tried to kick-start his kidneys for over an hour. He said he would die in about a week. We asked if he could have a room on his own to die in. They found one. They let us stay with him 24/7 and we talked to him and told him we loved him. The staff were kind, caring and efficient.

After three days, the doctors talked of the Liverpool Pathway; the following day we put him on it. For another three days, our maddening, frustrating, know-all of a dear, old dad faded gently and peacefully away. And it was sheer hell. It crucified me to watch him die, assisted by us and our decision; and for the rest of my life I will feel like we had him put down, albeit slowly, like a dog – even though he would have died anyway.

Be careful what you wish for, because when it comes to ending a life, I’m not convinced you can ever know what is the right thing when “assisting” comes into it. Those who oppose “helping” people to die do it because they feel it is wrong, and I will forever support their ability to keep the debate alive.

Katy Lane, Tetbury, Gloucestershire


Brian Crews (letter, 3 August) suggests “doctors have been assisting patients to die by putting them on the Liverpool Care Pathway [LCP]”.

I am a junior doctor and this is not the case. The LCP is used when patients are not responding to treatment and are dying. It does not attempt to hasten death. It aims to make a patient (and their family) comfortable in the last hours/days of their life.

The LCP does not “deprive” patients of food or water. An assessment is made as to whether artificial nutrition or hydration should be continued or not. Patients are not stopped from drinking or eating if they are able.

If the LCP is used appropriately, it is a valuable tool to assess, act upon and document a patient’s and their relatives’ needs at the end of their life. It is not assisted dying.

Dr Jennifer Mahoney, Manchester


The times they have a-changed

If someone is of a technical bent and has a computer and free time, they can take high-quality online courses for free. You can get everything you need to create web pages, web applications, mobile apps or desktop apps.

If you are of a more artistic or engineering bent, you can attempt to get funding for your projects through crowdsourcing at such places as Kickstarter, completely avoiding traditional venture capitalists. 

If you are a performer of some sort, you can put your showreel on YouTube or create your own channel for your productions, then promote them on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. 

You can write and self-publish books on the Amazon Kindle platform. If you have other skills, you can go to such sites as PeoplePerHour and pitch for work editing, proof-reading, illustrating, translating, sewing, painting or photographing.

All of these things can be done for free.

Onto this scene walks Steve Ormrod (letter 3 August) announcing that youth has “new, relevant ideas”. Steve is thinking in an old paradigm, evincing ageism, while falling back on clichés regarding “higher-ups” having “no idea”, because they are “removed from regular society”, while evoking a stereotype about youth’s “desire” and “passion”.

Not only does he appear blind to the amazing new world of opportunities that has opened up over the past 10 years, but he isn’t saying anything new at all.

Xavier Gallagher, London SE13


Servant of the UK

I have always admired the Duchess of Cambridge for the way she has handled herself, therefore I am disappointed that she chose to list her occupation as “Princess of the United Kingdom”. Wouldn’t it have sounded much more modest and graceful if she had put down “Public Service” as her occupation?

Ramji Abinashi, Amersham, Buckinghamshire


Cycle race discrimination

Yesterday Surrey was in lockdown. Tens of thousands of residents were imprisoned in their homes, unable to move around to visit family, get to work, visit relatives in hospital or go out for the day. Many businesses had to close.

This loss of freedom was not caused by an emergency but by a sporting event that is supposed to be fun, as 20,000 cyclists ride around roads that have been specially closed for them. What happened to equality, diversity and freedom of choice? Elitism and divisiveness are not the Olympic legacy that many people want.

Jenny Desoutter, Dorking, Surrey


Banks win-win

The banks messed up big time in 2008. We bailed them out and they, like the economy, now appear to be showing green shoots. Lloyds reports great profits, despite the fact that we are always told that the private sector can do things better. So now the corner is turning, what do we do? Sell the banks back to the bankers who messed up in the first place and let them reap the benefits? Why?

Chris Evans, Teddington


Fixed and faulty

Andrew Grice (Inside Westminster, 3 August) writes: “If the fixed-term parliaments law had not been introduced, the media would now be speculating about an election next spring, and the two Eds would feel under more pressure to spell out what a Labour government would look like.”

In other words, this law has lessened the influence of the electorate on the political process. The fixed parliaments law is bad for democracy and is a major constitutional change; yet it has received hardly any discussion.

John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire


Life of PI

Colin Burke’s prediction of Ofpis (letter, 3 August) reminds me  of a period I spent in Kisumu, Kenya, where property guarding was done by an outfit called Octopus Private Investigation and Security Services. I am not making this up.

David Boggis, Matignon, France


Let’s shoot cats

As farmers are allowed to shoot dogs worrying sheep on their land, why can’t I shoot cats worrying wildlife in my garden?

Dr Clive Mowforth, Dursley, Gloucestershire