Gazette letters: Clear masks, stop and search and cycle challenge

Passengers wearing face masks on a platform at Canning Town underground station in London. Picture:

Passengers wearing face masks on a platform at Canning Town underground station in London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Images - Credit: PA

We’re delighted to see MPs like Tulip Siddiq speaking out and supporting the vital Keep It Clear campaign, calling for the widespread introduction of face masks with clear panels over the mouth, writes Sally Etchells, a campaigner, National Deaf Children’s Society.

Almost all deaf people rely on lip-reading and visual cues to understand what others are saying, but opaque masks make this impossible and deaf people could face months of misery as a result.

It’s absolutely crucial that clear face masks are made widely available and we’re calling on governments across the UK to make this happen.

In the meantime, if the public show good deaf awareness, such as writing things down, being patient and using gestures, this would also make a huge difference to deaf people everywhere.

The incident [when a car MP Dawn Butler was travelling in was stopped and searched] would have been familiar to thousands of TV viewers who regularly watch police fly-on-the-wall documentaries where such traffic stops to establish ownership of the vehicle are routine, writes Chris Hobbs, retired Metropolitan Police officer, full address supplied.

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From the rather all-too-brief police statement, it appears that an officer carried out a search on the Police National Computer (PNC) but inputted a wrong digit. Unsurprisingly, it appears the PNC result showed a different vehicle registered in Yorkshire, hence police interest in ascertaining that the vehicle was in lawful possession of the owner or another individual with the owner’s permission.

Police quickly realised their mistake but were subjected to a lecture by Ms Butler who could have been on her way within a minute or so.

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As officers on social media were quick to point out, the country is awash with vehicles on false/cloned plates in order to avoid detection by the UK’s Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

This can be because the vehicle is stolen, to avoid insurance premiums or because the occupants are engaged in active criminality.

The vehicle in question here was described as ‘nice’ and if it is of high value, Ms Butler might like to know that 14,000, such ‘high-value’ vehicles are stolen each year. Many will be ‘exported’ from the UK, while others are destined for ‘chop shops’ where they are broken down for expensive spare parts.

In all, more than 700,000 motor vehicles are stolen on a yearly basis and officers on patrol will carry out literally hundreds of these computerised checks daily; as a result, numerous drivers will be stopped and spoken to. Most will be on the way within a minute or two; thieves will be in handcuffs.

I suspect little of this will be of interest to Ms Butler who not only grabbed the headlines, but has made life even more difficult for frontline police attempting to deal with the surge of both violent and vehicle crime.


Diabetes UK is looking for people to get on their bikes and take on the UK Wide Cycle Ride, writes Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK.

This September, take your fitness up a gear and complete a coast to coast virtual challenge. You can pick your distance from one of four routes.

Beginners may want to tackle the 120-mile Route One – the equivalent of Dundee to Fort William.

Experienced cyclists who are after a challenge may find the 950-mile Route Four, the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The aim is to challenge yourself – at your own pace – and pedal towards a stronger, healthier you. You can also get family, friends or colleagues along for the ride.

During the past few months, demand for our services has reached unprecedented levels and our own funding has been significantly impacted. People with diabetes need us now, and so we need your support to be able to continue fighting. Join us, and your support can change lives.

There are an estimated 4.7 million people living with diabetes in the UK ? a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly.

If not managed carefully, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications, including sight loss, amputation, kidney failure and stroke. There is currently no known cure for any type of diabetes.

Cycling is a fantastic way to help you get fit and healthy, have fun and set yourself a challenge. Whether you’re a novice in the saddle or a cycling fanatic, our team will be on hand to offer cycling tips and fundraising advice.

Every mile you complete and every pound you raise brings us closer to our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm. Sign up and get pedalling - your support can change lives!”

To register, visit

There is no registration fee and no minimum sponsorship.

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