It was encouraging to see the prominence given to research led by Dr Olivia Smith (“Court guidelines for rape victims ‘are not working’”, 8 February). These issues were part of the rationale for two initiatives in the Northumbria Police area – the Court Observers Panel and the Rape Scrutiny Panel. Their members are volunteers who have relevant expertise and have been trained by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Court Observers will watch all adult rape trials in Newcastle Crown Court for six months and will report on any unacceptable myths, such as the suggestion that victims have contributed to what happened via the way they have dressed, or the casting of doubt on their claims if they did not immediately go to the police.
The Rape Scrutiny Panel is re-examining case files where there was no prosecution. It will also examine the police’s investigations. Both panels are independent of the police or Crown Prosecution Service. We will share preliminary results very soon.
Vera Baird QC
Police and Crime Commissioner, Northumbria
It seems I am part of one of the lost tribes of Britain (“Pick your tribe and watch the parties tussle for your vote”, 8 February). I am disabled, but “not enough” under the current rules, I am retired with a small occupational pension but no free TV licence. And I have to pay over £200 for dentures from our “free” NHS.
Under austerity, I have a bleak future with costs going up faster than my income, and no help for my additional needs. Do any of the parties care about the poor, the disabled, the frail elderly, the children of those made redundant, the jobless who want to work? Tricia Williams
Is infertility a “disease”, as claimed by Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov (“‘Three-parent’ IVF could help older women”, 8 February)? It is for some, but for the majority of women today it is a “life-style choice” – for they have chosen to postpone pregnancy; yet it has been known for many years (though maybe not to some) that the chances of conceiving are markedly reduced over 35.
Malcolm Morrison FRCS
Sir Rodric Braithwaite says the BBC should take on Moscow’s propaganda and implies that the West should arm Ukraine (Comment, 8 February). Wouldn’t that be pouring gasoline on the flames?
Sir Rodric makes no mention of the West’s responsibility for events in Ukraine such as US State Department’s Victoria Nuland’s admission to spending $5bn interfering in Ukraine’s affairs. Nor any mention of Nato’s expansion east right up to Russia’s borders. America wants a new cold war and is using the events in Ukraine to start it.
It’s the Wolfowitz Doctrine in action and is extremely dangerous.
Katy Guest says halal and kosher stunning should be banned (“Off with their heads”, 8 February). She also claims the abuse of animals “by rogue workers” in regular slaughterhouses is a separate problem. She is wrong. Abuse is endemic in the conveyor-belt system that allows animal killing on this massive scale.
In the UK we breed, fatten and slaughter one billion animals a year. When animals are seen as a “crop” to be “harvested” and a “product” to be sold as meat, compassion and empathy are in short supply.
John Rentoul (8 February) seems to suggest that, like Cameron, Miliband should grovel to all business leaders. Maybe he can explain why British companies like Whitbread should pay corporation tax and VAT while Starbucks pays very little. Or why we allow Amazon to pay only minimum wages that have to be made up in the form of tax credits. Taxpayers are effectively subsidising these companies; all Miliband is saying is these companies should pay their fair share of tax. How is this anti-business?
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