BURGLARY: BURGLARS must all be banged-up, booms Ray Mallon's big bass drum (Echo, Jan 10).

But what is half-way down his column? He is rightfully pleased to point to burglaries in Middlesbrough plummeting by 40 per cent plus. Surely this cannot be the result of judges sending 40 per cent plus more burglars to jail in Middlesbrough?

'Put them in jail and throw away the key' might be attractive to some as a simplistic solution. However, cutting crime is complicated.

I agree with Ray that community involvement is crucial. Also, partnership between police and public bodies. The judges and prisons do have a part to play but not the most important.

Criminals fearing being caught is key. If you do not think you will ever be caught you will not fear a prison sentence, however severe. - Stuart Hill, Darlington.

LORD Woolf and Lord Irvine need to depart their ivory towers and come to live in the real world.

Burglars need to be removed from society not offered the soft option. How out of touch are these judges to even suggest people are not affected by these miscreants, hence they do not need to be jailed?

Perhaps many burglars are not fit enough to even make it up these judges' very long driveways, but they can deceive and (on their way into our old peoples' homes) often cause so much distress these wonderful old people like George Sharpe die as a consequence.

Ray Mallon, much to the annoyance of his enemies, was a massive success with zero tolerance. Let the public have zero tolerance of these out of touch soft liberal judges and get rid of them to help support the police and our communities.

The problem of prison overcrowding is easy. Build lots more without carpets, without TVs, without games and fun.

Britain is becoming a laughing stock. Unfortunately, what is happening to our lovely old people is no joke. - Robert Bridgett, Shildon.


IT was with great sadness that I read of the loss of Joe Mills, regional secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union.

I was a senior shop steward at ICI Billingham for many years, and got to know Joe very well. He always encouraged shop stewards and, indeed, gave me the opportunity to attend international women's conferences in Geneva and Rome.

My local union official, Frank Ramsey from Stockton, recommended me for the union's top award, the gold medal and Joe, without hesitation, endorsed it and Ron Todd presented it to me in December 1986.

Many people today have been thankful for help from Joe, and in organising events he was first class. He will be sorely missed. - Pearl Hall, South Bank.


CAN the banks and building societies explain why they have reduced interest rates to customers while the Bank of England has left the base rate unchanged all year? - N Tate, Darlington.


AT last, great news that anyone found with guns or offensive weapons will be sent to prison for five years.

I couldn't believe it. A law that would benefit the people. Governments don't usually talk straight, like that. This shows courage, which is not a government quality.

Then we hear it may take years to become law. - Jim Ross, Rowlands Gill.

IT is quite apparent that the proposed law on replica guns is a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that has been getting out of control for a number of years.

To suggest that heavier penalties will deter is ludicrous. The legislation of 1968 is quite adequate. What good are these laws if you can't get the offenders before the court?

When the police had the power to stop and search (at random) for drugs and weapons of all kinds the risk of being found in possession was very great and acted as a great deterrent.

These days, unless you are known to be carrying anything illegal, the chances of being stopped and searched are negligible. Bring back the right for police to stop and search and you will find that the numbers of gun/knife possession and possession of drugs will reduce dramatically. - B Peacock, Darlington.

WHEN are we going to have some politicians who, instead of following the party line and their pensions, make some effort to do what the voters expect of them. When was the last time you saw a poor politician?

As regards guns, stop and search any time anywhere. If people don't like it, tough, Five years if carrying one, no excuses. Use a gun in the appropriate gun clubs if they must have them. - M Shroeder, Bishop Auckland.


TO misquote Winston Churchill - "never in the field of human conflict has so much rubbish been told to the many by so few!"

I refer of course to the psuedo-apochryphal utterances of George Bush and Tony Blair.

Time after time they say Iraq has flouted UN resolutions, yet in terms of flouted resolutions Israel is way out top of the league and Iraq near the bottom.

President Bush weeps crocodile tears over deaths in the Middle East since it suits his purpose to pour arms into his puppet state Israel.

There are many countries which abuse their own citizens and the moral selectivity of President Bush and Mr Blair must be confronted and resisted. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.


THE doom and gloom merchants who predicted the demise of the euro miscalculated.

It has survived its first year well and the various countries who struggled at first will learn to adjust their economies to suit.

And as more countries join the EU there will be too much at stake to let the euro currency fail. Why are we waiting? - F Atkinson, Shincliffe.