Gazette letters: Jays and kingfishers, police restraint, Finsbury Park burst water main and children’s mental health

A kingfisher watches over the water. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

A kingfisher watches over the water. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Three jays and kingfisher – not often I’m so lucky running up the Lea, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

The kingfisher spotted me and shimmered noiselessly across the river. I caught sight of it in the overhanging foliage, duller blue without the sun on its back. As I ran closer it spooked again and sped back to its original branch, its wings turning brilliant again, caught between sunray and water.

Although they're more common I still get the same thrill watching jays. There is a pair along the south side of Clissold Park and another visited my garden this week. Each of them seen with beak full - storing food away for winter, or perhaps just for the cheap thrill of finding a treat at a later date. On a sunny day (as we have had some sun in the past week) the colours on their outstretched wings draw your eye upwards, them and the parakeets screeching past bringing some glamour to Hackney's canopy.

The crows too this week have been seen behaving oddly. I watched two perched on a water fountain in Victoria Park.

The fountain there sometimes gets stuck, spurting water aimlessly down the drain. The two crows overcrowding the basin took it in turns to sip at the faucet, one beak, then the other, wordlessly enjoying sharing a drink.

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What is it with Hackney's police and grabbing black boxers by the throat? write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

In 1993 future Olympic heavyweight champion Audley Harrison and his then fiancee went to Stoke Newington police station to make a complaint after witnessing police officers use what they believed was unnecessary force in detaining a mentally ill man.

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After Audley was gripped in a neck hold by a copper, both of them were charged with obstruction. Despite the evidence of nine police officers, the charges were thrown out by the Highbury Magistrates' and the couple received a total of £62,500 in compensation.

None of the police officers were prosecuted.

Audley was quoted as saying "I went to the police station as an honest citizen and ended up believing I was fighting for my life." He added "If the Metropolitan Police Commissioner wants the black community to have any faith in the police, then officers must be accountable."

And what do we read about the Jason Matthews' incident? "...the Independent Office for Police Conduct has referred the matter back to the Met for initial investigations."

We can confidently expect the Met to exonerate itself and to re-confirm Audley's suspicions of over a quarter of a century ago.

Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for the North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest), writes in response to the large-scale disruption and damage caused across the Finsbury Park area by a burst water main.

The scale of the flooding and the damage to people's homes has been absolutely shocking.

This is yet another major incident in recent times caused by a burst pipe, causing huge disruption to the lives of local people and putting the most vulnerable in the community in a potentially dangerous situation.

It has been clear for a long time that Thames Water need to take urgent action to properly invest in accelerating their leakage reduction programme to cut leaks and vastly improve their emergency response and communications strategies. We would now expect Thames Water to be forthcoming with generous compensation payments to all those who have been adversely affected.

I would like to extend my thanks to the emergency services who are working hard to evacuate local residents and distribute water, and Hackney Council who have opened up a rest centre.

This World Mental Health Day Childline encouraged young people to speak out, writes Wendy Robinson, Childline London service manager.

The international day was held on October 10, and was organised by the World Federation for Mental Health.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and can affect any child at any age regardless of their background, gender or race.

It affects your thinking, mood, and behaviour, how you interact with other people and how you cope with what life throws at you.

Signs that someone is having issues with their mental health include becoming withdrawn from friends and family, and experiencing worries that stop them from carrying out day to day tasks. Those with mental health issues often feel alone, ashamed, or worried that people won't understand. That's why on World Mental Health Day we're reminding children and young people that Childline's specially trained counsellors are there to listen and offer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To call Childline ring 0800 1111. Counsellors are also available to chat to online via

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