Letter: Lawrence tragedy

Sir: David Aaronovitch's claim (Comment, 23 February) that the Met treats blacks as "inherently" more criminal than whites still offers no solution to the fact that certain deprived areas of high crime also happen to have large black populations, and that suspects must therefore be disproportionately black.

There are additional considerations. A multi-ethnic society manifests ethnic variations in social behaviour; for example, marriage customs, occupational preferences, recreational substance choice. So why not types of crime? Not prejudice but experience leads policemen to suppose that athletic youths are more likely than old ladies to be street criminals. Age, gender and class are implicated in criminality statistics; why not a "race" factor also?

I do not, of course, mean that a Stephen Lawrence is less law-abiding than a David Norris just because his skin is darker, but it does mean there could be average group differences relevant to suspect-search in large communities.

A T L FOSTER-BARNES

London E4

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