Letters: Treatment of asylum seekers

No abuse of asylum seekers

Share
Related Topics

The picture you paint of secretive and traumatic removal flights is one I do not recognise – in fact the reality is very different (report, 5 July).

When the independent courts determine that a person has no right to stay in the UK, and that person must leave the country, then a return flight becomes our only option. The vast majority of these journeys pass without incident, with returnees complying with their removal.

However there are occasions when an individual poses a risk to themselves, other passengers or escorts. Only then, and as a last resort, do handcuffs or a minimal use of force become necessary.

Crucially though, an independent investigation found unequivocally that there was no systematic abuse within the UK Border Agency and its contractors. The report's author, Dame Nuala O'Loan, agreed that the use of force applied was justified and proportionate – used only to manage exceptionally disruptive detainees, and to ensure they complied with their removal from the UK.

We would always prefer that those with no right to be here returned home voluntarily. Unfortunately this is not always the case, which is why we will continue to enforce their removal.

David Wood

Strategic Director for Detention and Criminality,

UKBA, London SW1

Thank you for publishing the article about the abuse of asylum-seekers. Many people have no idea about the violence that they are exposed to. It makes me ashamed, since Britain once had a reputation for being a safe haven for people fleeing persecution. Now, instead, not only are they criminalised and imprisoned in centres run for private profit, but they are exposed routinely to the kind of violence described in your article.

I have visited Yarl's Wood several times and supported detainees, and know how unjust the system is. Please carry on your reporting.

Camilla Saunders

Knighton, Powys

Despite what Steve Gay may think (Letters, 6 July), "failure" in asylum claims is a label applied by functionaries of the Home Office with a similar mindset to Mr Gay, and has staggeringly little relation to the claim's validity.

Further, the nation that takes most refugees from Sudan is Chad, one of the most poverty-stricken nations on the planet.

Oh, and finally, "useless migrants"? He doesn't use the health service? He doesn't like a clean office?

Chris Lilly

London E14

Media's role in Moat's rampage

In "Did the media help to pull the trigger?" (8 July) Johann Hari makes a convincing case for the effect of the over-reporting of the manhunt for the alleged killer, Raoul Moat, in Northumbria by the print and broadcast media.

One-tenth of the UK's armed police are apparently engaged in the manhunt for Moat. We have seen the footage of gun-wielding police officers combing the streets around Rothbury, searching woods and derelict buildings and stopping traffic to investigate. Each news channel trots out its experts to pontificate on Moat's handwriting and profile.

This whole issue should be put into a regional context. If news channels and newspapers demonstrated restraint, as Hari suggests, it would allow the authorities to carry out their work unhindered.

Ian Herne

Uxbridge, Middlesex

Johann Hari is spot on. As a criminologist, I followed the Bird case in Cumbria and on 6 July predicted on radio that we would have a copycat within eight to 12 days. Moat was in prison, therefore it took longer.

In the past quarter of a century, we have had two multiple shootings, one of which was a copycat, Hungerford, and then Dunblane, that would be "copycatted" in Tasmania. So two multiple shootings in the UK in 25 years and we now have two within four weeks. The media does not want to acknowledge the danger of copycats, in case it is seen to encourage them.

Well the media has, with the saturation coverage and glorification of angry, unstable men who have access to firearms. We'll have another one in the next fortnight and it won't be because some academic from Cambridge has predicted it.

The only caveat I would add is that neither of these losers was mentally ill. But they are mentally abnormal and, as Johann hints, there are plenty more out there.

Dr Kate Painter

Institute of Criminology

University of Cambridge

Like Johann Hari, many of us feel that in our media-driven society reporting of certain events goes far beyond what is reasonable. Even stalwarts like the BBC are becoming daily more embroiled in putting a tabloid perspective on their reportage.

Are we really so jaded that we need everything reported in sensationalist soundbites? Do we really want to give succour to the ranks of copycats?

Jim Dowdall

London W14

Let's have mining with morality

Michael Palin's letter about Vedanta, "Bulldozer threat to forest people" (1 July) citing that company's battle to evict indigenous peoples from their land because of the minerals that lie under their feet, is one of the great issues of our time – not just for the metals, minerals and mining trade, but for our western societies whose hunger for raw materials is an addiction. In the past few weeks the sovereign government of a resource-rich country, Australia, has got rid of its prime minister because he had the temerity to challenge the miners over their excess profits. He proposed a 40 per cent tax. If a government of a nation such as Australia has less power than a miner, what hope Africa? What hope India?

After 30 years as a foot- soldier in the metals trade I have come to the conclusion that only pressure in the West, using our still-free press, and making representations to our own stock exchange, to ensure that companies listed there abide by the same rules where they mine, as they would in UK, will have any effect. This is the miners' Achilles heel, for it is to financial centres such as London that they come to raise money.

In Zambia, where the country relies on copper mining for over 60 per cent of its revenue, I have witnessed at first-hand foreign-owned smelters belching out sulphur fumes many times World Health Organisation limits on to local populations; seen roads made unpassable for the ordinary populace by ore lorries; witnessed tailings leaching into local rivers.

Only regulation of these companies here in the UK, where it hurts, will make sure that the pious words about the environment and local populations that they post on their websites mean something.

There are fair ways to obtain copper for our light switches and aluminium for our drinks cans. I advocate a Fair Trade Metal movement.

Anthony Lipmann

Bridgwater, Somerset

Lord Foster's tax status

I would like to correct an assertion made on your front page of 9 July. You reported that I am a "non-dom" which is untrue. I have never opted for non-dom status. I do understand why the confusion has arisen.

The simple fact is that I no longer have a home in the UK so I had no choice, under Section 42 of CRGA (ie the new Act), other than to tell the truth and confirm I am no longer a UK resident, which is a very different thing to being a non-dom.

Everyone who knows me and my family understands that I live in Switzerland. I did not go there for tax purposes – I went there because it has become my home. My family is there and my children attend local schools. The fact is I pay both UK taxes and Swiss taxes.

Lord Foster

Foster + Partners

London SW11

'Soft' subjects blight prospects

Hamish McRae asks "Can our graduates compete globally?" (7 July) but fails to identify the predominant cause for young UK graduates failing to find employment: they have read "soft" subjects that equip them for nothing much.

To prioritise physics over psychology, biology/chemistry against sports science and music/art/history over media studies would be hugely beneficial. A nation that, at all levels of the education system, fails to teach mathematics, science, engineering, technology and languages will never compete successfully with such as Finland and South Korea.

Quite apart from the direct relevance of the "difficult" subjects to many employment opportunities – for maths and science teachers, language teachers, EU civil servants, or new technologies relevant to a low-carbon economy, for example – they also equip those who master them with the analytical skills for any career that demands them.

Michael Gove should forthwith require all state schools to make the sciences and foreign languages compulsory. Furthermore, in these straitened times, universities that teach high-value subjects should be funded more generously than those which churn out large numbers of unemployable graduates.

David Smith

Clyro, Powys

Grow your own – on the Tube

It's fashionable these days to grow one's own fruit and vegetables, so it's pleasing to see London Transport is nurturing a tomato plant in a sand-filled cigarette bin on the east-bound District line platform at South Kensington underground station.

Christopher Shepherd

London W6

Perspectives on early-years learning

Handicapped by summer birthday

How I wish the views of Sue Palmer ("Early start means that many children fall at the first fence", 6 July) were taken on board in our schools. I am a mother to three boys, aged seven, five and 20 months. The eldest two have birthdays in June which makes them the youngest in their year group, and they both started school when they were four years old. The eldest has done remarkably well, but the younger has struggled.

It would be ideal if he could start school this September, but that is unheard of; instead he is to be given a statement of special needs. He has no special needs; he is a happy-go-lucky boy who turned five a few weeks ago and prefers to play with sand, water, ride his bike and play with his friends rather than sit down and read books and write his name.

The education system is far too regimented. Children are not assessed on their individual needs, but made to conform to what the government wants. As a result, my poor son will continue his school career with the label "special needs".

We have felt so strongly about this that we planned our third baby to be born in October and our fourth child is due in September. They will both benefit from an extra year at pre-school which will give them a big advantage over the poor children who have to start school at four.

Although we are told that the school starting-age is for the benefit of children, I believe it is a cheeky ploy to get mothers back into the workforce. I work as a midwife and have found things immensely easier since my children went to school, but it's not about us – it is what is best for the children.

Kate Johns

Worcester

Government goals are unreasonable

Your report on much-needed changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (6 July) brings very welcome news. I have been teaching reception and year 1 children for many years and know that if we don't get the results from our children that the powers that be require, we are deemed to be failing. No weight or consideration is given to gender or date of birth within the educational year.

But I must point out that the 69 Early Learning Goals are assessed at the end of children's first year in education, not before they begin, as you say. Even so, as the bullet-point list you publish shows, achieving some of these goals is still a tall order for many children after just one year in school.

Anne Stoneman

Downham Market, Norfolk

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, left, is to take part in a live television debate about Scottish independence with Alistair Darling, right, head of the Better Together campaign, if David Cameron continues to refuse to take part  

How a polite message from Canada inspired the campaign against Scottish independence

Andrew Grice
The Government is rushing through an emergency law to allow the state to retain personal data held by internet and telephone companies  

Don't call this the surveillance status quo – it's a cross-party stitch-up

Mike Harris
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice