Attempting to warn parents of dangers

Further to letters from Tony Scott and Sheila Hulbert (Voice of the North, August 28 & 31), I offer the following response: The Journal's education correspondent Graeme Whitfield wrote an article, published on August 21, in which he extrapolated certain facts, which is his privilege.

Further to letters from Tony Scott and Sheila Hulbert (Voice of the North, August 28 & 31), I offer the following response: The Journal's education correspondent Graeme Whitfield wrote an article, published on August 21, in which he extrapolated certain facts, which is his privilege. In doing so, certain points were not included.

Firstly, fingerprinting is being carried out by several companies, one of which has ties with the American military operation in Guantanamo Bay.

The child's fingerprint information is not just stored in the school; it is placed also on the Children's Index and other databases. This index stores all information on the child and much information on the parents.

If the child is from a single parent household or a family on benefits, it will be considered a likely future criminal. This will be registered.

As far as being keen to offer your DNA, Mr Scott, I advise you absolutely not too. The hidden dangers of this action could prevent your child having a normal life in the future.

Secondly, a child is to be monitored from the age of three. If this child shows any signs of bullying tendencies, they will also be marked down on the register as a future criminal. The child that sticks up for the bullied may be considered a bully too and be criminalised themselves.

The idea that fingerprinting a child would prevent bullying, was pure spin by the Government. It was a lie. Unfortunately, too many parents are falling for it, in a desperate attempt to make life better for their children.

Far from living in an ivory tower, I am attempting to warn parents of the dangers.

PENELOPE GILES, Warkworth, Northumberland (email: alnwick@no2id.net)

Lecture urged on fingerprinting claims

IREAD with great interest the article on Penelope Giles and her campaign to prevent the fingerprinting of children (The Journal, August 21).

So, when letters began to appear in The Journal I thought this might be a burgeoning debate on what is a very important issue. However, it seems to be degenerating very quickly into a "Get Penny Giles" campaign.

The lives of our children are far too precious to be used as a political football by anyone. Therefore, I would like to suggest a solution to the apparently imminent decline into personal rancour rather than rational debate.

There are many small venues available in the City of Newcastle where Penny Giles can produce her evidence, present it in the form of a lecture and engage in constructive exchanges of opinion with her critics. I would like to hear at first hand what you have to say, Penny, and see the proof of your argument. I feel others would too. Book a place to speak and display the evidence. Those who wish to criticise can come and do so in person, rather than sniping through the Voice of the North pages.

JOSEPH HILL, Springwell Estate, Sunderland

Emotional outburst unworthy of PM

IF someone started to burble on that yobbish behaviour could be predicted before the child is born and even worse, it was the fault of all those terrible poor people, especially teenage mothers, who aren't wealthy paragons of virtue like himself (conveniently forgetting the disruption his own children caused), we'd gently take the whisky bottle from him and order a taxi.

Then, when he was sober, we'd suggest perhaps he needed to take it easy. We'd certainly feel pity for him, because it is so common to hear people who've hit the buffers hitting out this way. We've probably even momentarily felt and thought the same, but our better, saner selves prevail.

We know young people from all walks of life can be difficult and even destructive. And we all know little saints who come from the most horrendously awful backgrounds.

Unfortunately, it was our Prime Minister who came out with this emotional outburst and he has the power to put this nasty piece of fascism into practice before he comes to his senses.

R RENWICK, North Shields, North Tyneside

Disgrace of cold-related deaths among elderly

IT is a disgrace and unacceptable that over 20,000 older people die from cold-related illnesses in this country every winter.

It is shameful that we have a higher rate of excess winter deaths than comparable northern European countries when we have the resources to address the underlying issues: particularly cold, damp homes.

It is an outrage that older people are still more at risk of living in hard-to-heat homes than the rest of the population: 1.5 million older households live without adequate heating and insulation that fails to even meet the Government's minimum standards. Those who own their homes or rent privately are the most likely to face poor conditions, as they are being woefully assisted by Government.

The Government has a target to eliminate fuel poverty for all older people by 2010. However, if this target is to be met, more investment will be needed, and problem areas of severe fuel poverty (where 15% or more of income is spent on heating a home) will have to be targeted.

The Government needs to do much more to make sure it proactively targets older people. Many of the most vulnerable will also need face-to-face support, advice and practical help.

We must put pressure on the Government to adopt a five-point plan:

Increase investment in Warm Front by a minimum of £100m per annum to ensure the 2010 elimination of fuel poverty target amongst older people is reached.

End the means testing of Warm Front so that all pensioners receive free central heating. Target the delivery of Government programmes, including Warm Front, at deprived and rural areas where many fuel poor live. To achieve this, benefits data needs to be shared. Extend the gas network where it is economic. Where it is not, consider increasing the range of measures, eg grants to include more expensive installations such as heat pumps and other renewable sources of energy.

Proactively target its schemes at older people and provide more intensive assistance to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are able to access the help they need.

With the colder weather soon upon us, if you know of someone who is elderly either together or alone, remember to be mindful and show an understanding of community spirit, which has almost disappeared in certain areas of this country.

Coun GEORGE WESTWATER, Conservative, Weetslade Ward, North Tyneside Council

Don't disturb herd

LET Mr Michael Glasser of Hertfordshire stay there and set up his hunting lodge there ("Fears for herd in hunting bid", The Journal, September 2).

He should leave our county and our unique herd of wild white cattle alone. The Chillingham herd is a one-off and should remain undisturbed, without being distressed by him and his rich friends hunting deer.

Berwick Council should not even consider this application but throw it out. Is there nothing sacred in this land?

ROBIN THOMPSON, Amble, Northumberland

Big thank you for helping children

ON behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, I would like to say a big thank you to any of your readers who work for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) for helping to raise an amazing £1.2m, which I was so grateful to accept earlier this year and which is already helping change children's lives. Colleagues in Newcastle joined colleagues across the United Kingdom in a host of fundraising activities, from football matches and sponsored walks to raffles and online auctions, as part of the Charity of the Year programme, The Million £ Challenge, and their fundraising efforts were matched pound for pound by HBOS Foundation.

MARY MARSH, Director and Chief Executive, NSPCC, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3NH

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