Letter: Hit and miss

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Sir: It is worrying to hear that senior police officers like Roy Penrose cite films as an explanation for the rise of the "hit-men" in Britain (report, 28 December). We might expect this simplistic explanation from people ignorant of the pattern of hit-man killings, or prepared to forget hit-man films going back to Jimmy Cagney. Old Mafia movies and the Krays show us that explanation is not found in Hollywood, but in the socio-economic conditions of Britain.

We have moved closer to the US in many other respects. The hit-man, like the age-structured gang and the drug territory battles, is but one facet of social exclusion and the cheapening of human life.

Perhaps the director-general of our National Crime Squad was fired up by Christmas repeats, but our interests would be better served if he addressed the real issues. I assume that he does not blame killer-cop movies for the rise in police resort to firearms?


Mannheim Centre for Criminology

London School of Economics

London SE10