Secure prison

I APPLAUD North Yorkshire councillors in the initiative they have taken to prevent criminals committing crime, culminating in their recent visit to HMP Kirklevington. Rehabilitation is the best way to protect the public, because the more prisoners that achieve it the fewer victims there will be when they are released.

The Kirklevington model should be copied throughout the prison system in my submission.

On arrival each prisoner is interviewed and a case file is opened up on him to which he has access. He is assigned a personal officer/ case worker who will always be the prisoner’s first port of call when he has any queries. A case conference is called to review progress after six weeks. Future living arrangements will be discussed but this conference is essentially the first step in risk assessing his preparation for release and work in the outside community.

After successfully completing an initial assessment period the prisoner is put through a two-week development programme designed to prepare him for work in the local community, gardening, painting and decorating...

Risk assessments, casework continues on each individual until it is decided that he is ready for full time work or education outside the prison walls. Personal officers carry out random but regular checks on each individual, at his place of work.

It doesn't always work out and those that abuse the trust and chances given are back-tracked immediately to closed prison conditions or they were in my day. This is crucial because it is the least the Ministry of Justice must do in order retain the trust of the local community and local businesses, who have long and loyally supported the needs of the establishment.

Which brings me the problems of Stockton prison (D&S Times, April 27). Scanners, dogs and extra staff will not by themselves solve the problems. Better security is what is required. Security is the core business of all closed prisons. The purpose of security is to protect the public, prison staff, prisoners and their living environment. It is created through physical security, procedural security and dynamic security. No single concept provides total security on its own. They inter-relate with one another with prisoners as the central focus, the prisoners being subject to a regime which keeps them safe, in secure controlled custody which should encourage the majority to lead a law-abiding life on release, particularly if they have the incentive of a Kirklevington to aim for.

Where thiese concepts are not in place the violent and those with ill-intent fill the void. This I suggest is what is happening at HMP Birmingham and Stockton.

Prisons' Minister Rory Stewart faces a difficult task, but his previous careers, particularly in the Army, will have taught him that getting the basics right everytime is essential to success. At long last we may have someone up to the job, a future Home Secretary?

Phil O'Brien, Northallerton

Riding roughshod

I FULLY understand and agree with the views contained in the letters from both David Severs and Phil O' Brien (D&S Times, May 4).

It reminds me of a meeting I attended at Bedale Hall with councils from Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar. I questioned a local district councillor on what I felt was a treatment of Leeming Bar as less than equals and an area to run roughshod over residents and their views, regarding in particular industrial trading sites and indeed future plans to add further such site. I was reminded by the district councillor that Leeming Bar has always been known as the employment hub for Bedale and surrounding area. I am an incomer (25 years ago) and that seemed to be the intended recourse of my educational update.

I would also remind readers of the voting in of an increase of 10 per cent for Hambleton district councillors in their allowances with an equal percentage increase in salary to the top-level council officers just over a year ago - while all the other employees of the council have managed on approximately 3.5 per cent over eight years. Nothing like equality or a commitment to a valued work force.

I have been a Conservative all my adult life but now feel that at local level a wake-up call is needed to remind those comfortably-entrenched councillors that they are there for all residents. With the continued rate of house building in the area and what seems as an increase of farmers trying to sell their fields the rural democratic colour might just lose some of its blue tinge.

I am however committed to a blue central government but look forward to the next opportunity to show my anger to the district council.

John Stenhouse, Leeming Bar

EU regulations

REGARDING the letter from Thomas Glover (D&S Times, May 4) - the figures I stated in my previous letter come from Global Future.

Mr Glover talks about the EU regulations. In January Theresa May proudly tweeted that they had clamped down on credit card charges and were "banning hidden charges" and the move would enable "millions of people avoid rip-off fees". She didn’t - the EU did. The Consumer Rights Act 2015, which gave us better protection in both online and offline sales, is an EU regulation. The General Data Protection Regulations (coming in later this month) to give us more rights over our data – again EU. The banning of mobile phone roaming charges in Europe - EU.

As for the costs of the “subsidies” - the cost of the EU (the difference between what we paid and what we got back) per head in 2016 was £2.64 a week - £137 a year. That’s less than a Band D household pays to Richmondshire District Council per month.

The EU certainly isn’t perfect but it is not the villain that it is made out to be by some. It is only possible to change it from the inside though. Turning our backs on our nearest neighbours and the Single Market (which was Margaret Thatcher’s idea) is not the solution in my opinion.

Philip Knowles, Chair Richmondshire Liberal Democrats

Homes dismay

THE proposal to increase the number of houses by some 70-plus at two farm sites is viewed by local residents at Barton with dismay and is thought to be totally out of proportion for a small village of this size.

However, there are bats in the barns, and the access and exit roads are causing legal problems hence the delay by the planning committee.

Only some two years ago the Richmond council proposed that we would only get some 37 houses spread over the next ten years on some seven or eight infill brownfield sites.

This was considered to be the most sensible solution, whereas adding on two large developments of tightly-packed houses would be totally out of keeping with a small village of this size.

It is recommended that the two developments should be cancelled and the original and sensible developments be adopted.

William Robotham, Barton

Selling out?

I AM increasingly fearful that our PM is weakening on her Brexit “red lines”, particularly when it comes to the customs union. Does Theresa May really want to go down in history as the leader who sold out the British people?

The UK is in a stronger position than we think, for the EU's strongest economy, Germany, is now desperate to move forward on a deal.

The only threat to a clean Brexit is division in the Tory party. Theresa needs to lead from the front. Instead of compromise, she needs the conviction of her sole female predecessor.

That unlikely people’s champion, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and his parliamentary colleagues have been accused of vetoing the PM’s compromise customs proposals. So what? I only wish the PM had their commitment to the cause.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm

Final drive

AFTER 38 years, the Richmond Friday Whisters (as they have recently been known), held their last whist drive on April 20.

Beginning with monthly meetings at Richmond House for residents with reduced physical capabilities but still mentally alert, with profits, if any going to the Friends of Richmond House, we eventually moved to the town hall for weekly Friday evening drives.

With membership often well over 40, sizeable profits totalling several thousand pounds were made.

Donations were given to many local causes and national charities, and to national and international disaster funds.

In the last 10-15 years, numbers decreased until barely enough was raised to pay the rent for the town hall and the decision to stop was taken.

Our grateful thanks are due to Charlie Wells and Kim for being so helpful in carrying our bags upstairs, for preparing and tidying up the hall, and for seeing us off the premises!

Roy and Pam Cross, Richmond

Toddling on

THE Barnardo’s Big Toddle is a sponsored fundraising walk for children under five. It is the UK's biggest pre-school fundraising event for children and all money raised goes towards the charity’s work with vulnerable children.

Barnardo’s is very grateful to the people of Darlington for the great support it has had from parents and toddlers in previous years, with events organised by communities, nurseries and families, raising £598 just last year.

Now we are asking for toddlers, parents and carers to put their best foot forward and take part in this year’s Big Toddle week from June 18 5to 24. For the second consecutive year it is run in partnership with the much-loved CBeebies TV show, Teletubbies.

This year’s theme is Nature, with lots of opportunities for creative dressing up as animals, insects, flowers or even jungle creatures. By signing up to the Big Toddle you can access exclusive nature-themed early years learning resources.

If you’re interested in taking part in this year’s Big Toddle, you can find everything you need by visiting and registering for your free Big Toddle fundraising pack.

Steve Oversby, Barnardo’s East Region Director

Thanks John

THOSE of us who walk would like to express our grateful thanks to David Swabey for his many excellent routes in the Darlington and Stockton Times.

Might we suggest a book of these could be published. We have all discovered many interesting and hidden places thanks to him,

John and Wendy Gibson, Great Broughton