Dissolving social glue lets in crime

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The rise in crime and "no-go" neighbourhoods is linked to a collapse in major institutions which encourage social cohesion and civil responsibility, according to a new study published by the Foundation for Civil Society, an independent research organisation.

Churches, trade unions and political parties have all suffered a dramatic fall in numbers over the last century - membership of the Church of England has fallen by 40 per cent since the Thirties and that of the Catholic Church by one-quarter in the past 25 years. Informal day-to-day social relationships such as good neighbourliness is also in decline, the report says.

Barry Knight, secretary to the foundation, said: "People's lack of civic involvement has gone hand-in-hand with a growing sense of their own powerlessness." Susan Emmett