Gazette letters: Violent crime, inquest support, new prime minister and Hackney Today

A GPS tagging pilot scheme is being rolled out to prevent violent crime. Picture: PA

A GPS tagging pilot scheme is being rolled out to prevent violent crime. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Tackling re-offending is a key facet in our fight against rising violent crime, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.

This is why it has been very positive to see City Hall recently increase its investment in this area.

The Mayor of London is expanding a pilot scheme operating in Lewisham, Croydon, Southwark and Lambeth, making it a requirement for knife crime offenders, deemed to be the most at-risk of re-offending, to wear a GPS tag after their release from prison as part of strict licence conditions.

I welcome the decision to roll this out to Hackney and believe it will help to improve the rehabilitation of persistent offenders and protect victims. It should also enable the police to more effectively detect and prevent violent crime.

It is vital we continue to come together as a community and cultivate a strong relationship with local police teams.

In this way, we will be playing our part in stopping more tragedies by sharing with officers any relevant intelligence and information that we might have.

As far as we are aware, the only other occasion when the inquest verdict on a person who died while being arrested by the police was misadventure was that of Brian Douglas in 1996, write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

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The implication that his death was in some way Edson Da Costa's own fault is thus unusual.

You reported ("Edson Da Costa inquest: Jury told not to criticise police over young father's death") that the coroner had directed the jury that they could not criticise the police. It was a similar direction by the coroner at the first inquest into the death in Pentonville prison of Hackney resident Paul Calvert in 2007 that, in part, led to the verdict being overturned.

The police are employing expensive lawyers to make a partisan presentation of their case. For instance, John Beggs QC was employed at the Hillsborough inquiry and at the inquests into Hackney residents Rashan Charles and Geoff Gray.

And coroners are granting anonymity to witnesses at inquests far more widely that just for firearms officers, such as the officers in Edson's case, and to non-police people involved, as in Rashan's case.

The powers and funds available to the state's institutions have increased, are increasing and ought to be diminished, and bereaved families should get full legal aid to have a fighting chance of getting truth, justice and accountability.

The fight to be the next prime minister is currently going on and a number of good ideas on changing the tax system have emerged when money is available, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

In my opinion, the first priority is to suspend the inflation rate increase in business rates that came into effect on April 1, 2019, and the increase due on April 1, 2020, should also be suspended. This should have been done last March.

Next I would scrap the 5 per cent VAT on fuel bills on November 1, 2019 when we leave the EU as there is still a lot of fuel poverty in Hackney because of the costs of climate change.

And any attempt to alleviate this is to be welcomed.

Then I would increase employees' national insurance by 5pc over five years rather than income tax as it would be cheaper than an income tax cut with the same result for most workers on low pay.

The idea of increasing the point at which higher rate tax starts is a good one but it is not a priority and I suggest it is limited to £60,000 initially, up from £50,000.

Other priorities include the reform of stamp duty for house purchase: a substantial cut is required to free up the market.

More controversially I would exempt car insurance from insurance tax as working people often need a car for work. Socialists will not understand the problem as they are basically anti-car, but forget the employment the car industry provides.

Regarding your article on page two of the Gazette dated June 13, 2019, writes Ken Davison, Queens Drive, Finsbury Park.

My complaint with Hackney Today is not the content, but lack of delivery. Living in a block of entry phone controlled flats on the edge of the borough, we receive copies of the publication only very occasionally, almost never at all. My rare sightings occur if I pick one up from the Central Library or if copies manage to reach my doctor's surgery.

Then I find it to be a useful source of local information.

The council will no doubt claim that they have problems gaining access, yet other distributors manage, including those delivering leaflets for take away or delivery meals.

Hackney Council is obliged to publish statutory notices, including planning applications.

If they did not use their own publication, they would be obliged to pay for this service thus wasting money which should be used elsewhere. [It'd cost them less than producing Hackney Today! - ed]

So I say keep Hackney Today in its present form but improve distribution.

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