Letter: Causes of crime: a simplistic analysis that puts men in the dock

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The Independent Online
Sir: After reading Anna Coote's article 'The problem with crime is a problem with men' (16 February), I feel bound to recount an incident that I witnessed in Liverpool city centre a few weeks ago. At around two o'clock on Saturday afternoon, I happened to notice a young woman heading towards me. My attention was caught by a young man who was stalking her so purposefully, and with a look of such rage on his face, I was struck by a notion that he was about to rape her, but quickly rejected the idea as fanciful paranoia.

A few minutes later, the same young man came racing past me. He was being pursued by another man and the woman that he had been following. He tried to duck into a shop but they caught up with him. The woman explained to the gathering crowd that the man had snatched her bag.

Cornered, the thief threw it back at the woman, who began checking for her purse. Then the thief realised that his pursuer was a concerned citizen, rather than a police officer, and began attacking him, punching him in the face. The mugger was then joined by two other women who had obviously participated in planning the attack. Evidently frustrated at losing their prey, these women began to goad him to repeating the attack on his female victim. I heard one woman ask him if he was going to let the terrified young victim get away with embarrassing them like that.

The second accomplice encouraged him to go after her again and 'give her a good dig' for resisting the attack. The muggers then launched a second assault on their target, further down the street but in full view of the small crowd, which seemed too stunned by the violence to act. The man took care of the second physical attack while his female accomplices shouted encouragement and hailed a taxi to make their escape.

Ms Coote's simplistic analysis of the relationship between gender and crime stems from a lack

of insight into the criminal sub- culture. Though some women lack the physical strength or presence to commit certain acts, others are only too happy to reinforce male barbarism, as long as it furthers their own interests.

Explanations that rely upon official crime statistics tell us little besides whom the police have arrested. If we are really serious about understanding the dynamics of violent crime and the role that gender plays in the process, then we must look at how real people live and how they try to make sense out of their lives.

Yours faithfully,

PETER McDERMOTT

Liverpool

16 February

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