Letter: No solutions to car crime

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Sir: You report that Labour's home affairs spokesman, Tony Blair, anxious about the surge in vehicle crime, proposes two correctional policies (16 December). Attacking the Government for having 'totally failed to develop a comprehensive youth crime prevention strategy', and noting the incontrovertible link between the recession and car crime, Mr Blair advocates (i) security measures making it harder to break into cars and (ii) local programmes involving police and social workers.

Neither policy can have a sustained effect. Does Mr Blair believe that the scientists and technicians who work for car companies or security firms are simply better than those who assist on the other side of the law?

Technology will not solve the problem of crime; every ingenious security device has been followed by an equally artful method of outwitting the system. That this is so is given timely corroboration by your report (21 December) that car thieves have now 'cracked' the very latest coded central locking units. A simple electronic device can now thwart the expensive safety systems fitted in thousands of vehicles.

As for local youth socialisation programmes, Mr Blair's conclusion in favour of these is at variance with his basic premise that the crime in question has economic origins. If the material environment of young people remains bleak, it is doubtful whether moral exhortations will significantly alter their conduct.

Yours faithfully,

GARY SLAPPER

School of Law

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

21 December

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