Letter: Oafs rebuked

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Jack Straw's call for a more community-led approach to fighting crime is a welcome change from the right-wing pronouncements he made recently about the alleged effectiveness of prison.

However, whereas everyone has a duty to do what they can should they come across a violent crime being committed against an innocent party, such as a mugging, I do not think it is wise to recommend that people should place their lives at risk for the sake of property. A few smashed windows on a phone box are utterly irrelevant in comparison with the value of human life. Far better to advise people merely to report the incident to the police.

Sociologist have rightly told us that crime is a result of poverty and poor education and socialisation. However, crime is also a result of a wider cultural ethos which has, for at least the past twenty years, encouraged competition, social atomisation and greed. This is the paradox at the heart of the Blair administration - a call for community spirit, but acceptance of an economic system based on individualism. I fear Mr Straw's comments will fall on largely deaf ears.

MARK S LANG

Port Talbot, South Wales

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