Letter: Causes of, and cures for, criminal behaviour

Sir: L. J. Ray (letter, 19 February), a sociologist, rather contemptuously dismisses Dr King's suggestion (letter, 16 February) that genetics might have something to do with our present fearsome increase in crime. He seems ignorant of the vast amount of high- quality research that has been done in recent years demonstrating beyond question that genetic predisposition plays a very important part in producing criminal activity, in conjunction, of course, with environmental factors.

To dismiss all this as 'old hat' is indicative of the general inability of many sociologists to appreciate the important work going on in other disciplines. Heredity does not claim to explain everything, but it has been shown (through adoption and twin studies) that it cannot be dismissed in offering some insight into this murky field.

The fanatical belief in social forces alone being responsible for crime has governed sociological and governmental thinking for the last 30 years; the resulting failure to do anything worthwhile to reduce crime is firmly grounded in that belief. Through their fruits shall we know them.

Yours sincerely,


London, SE5

22 February