JOAN SMITH'S article about the Mary Bell fiasco was both courageous and incisive ("For ever a child-killer", Section 2, 3 May). Despite evidence to the contrary many of us are "talking about the right of offenders who have served their sentence..." but cannot be heard above the baying mob. Shame on Tony Blair for echoing the ill-informed rather than, as government should, stimulating intelligent and enlightened debate.
Ironically our current obsession with the rights of children conveniently omits compassion for those who are the most damaged of all, because it is always easier to demonise than to accept collective responsibility. By keeping Mary Bell as "other" we can close our eyes to the frailty of our own psyche, thereby ensuring that similar tragedies will recur. Gitta Sereny's book will, I am sure, be painful but essential reading.