Sexual freedom is blamed for rise in crime

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Sexual freedom, rather than poverty, is largely to blame for rising levels of crime and disorder, according to a report today from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The author of the report, Norman Dennis, argues that the freedom of men "to engage in sexual intercourse without being powerfully constrained" by the pressure to become monogamous husbands or fathers is closely linked with crime.

Jobless young men and women and single mothers were partly to blame for their own low incomes because of their lifestyles, according to the report The Invention of Permanent Poverty.

Their situation was attributable to the breakdown of cultural mechanisms which once transmitted "messages of responsibility, striving, self-help and self-improvement".

Mr Dennis maintained that the sexual freedom of men was linked specifically to growing crime and disorder.

He added: "Nothing else has been transformed at the same rate and in the same direction, in lockstep with crime ... neither a worsening stock of houses, nor rising unemployment, nor deepening poverty come anywhere close to being as likely candidates for the role of crucial cause of the steep rise in boys' and young men's vandalism, hooliganism, drug use and criminality in England and Wales."

He strongly attacked a 1995 report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Inquiry into Income and Wealth, which draws a statistical association between crime and poverty.

The "fundamentally flawed" report contained misleading information and failed to take account of the fact that crime was going up rapidly in the pre-Thatcher years 1961 to 1979 when incomes were rising and unemployment was low.

He also criticised the report's "no-fault" analysis of crime, which suggested that poor people could not help becoming criminals.

Mr Dennis, a social scientist and member of the Labour Party, is guest fellow in the department of religious studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He has had a number of books published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing think-tank.