Letter: Reverse evolution and the rise in crime

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Sir: Parliament is clearly baffled by the remorseless rise in crime since the Second World War (report, 12 February). Governments come and go, politicians blame unemployment, the recession, the police or each other, but finally admit that there is no obvious explanation. Even Robert Reiner, a professor of criminology, can do little better than repeat the same worn-out catch phrases about unemployment, inequality, etc, which have long since ceased to convince anybody (letters, 13 February).

The reason, however, may be quite simple: more criminals are being born. Responsible, law-abiding citizens, well-fulfilled in their careers, are tending to have fewer children, sometimes none at all. Conversely, the less intelligent and responsible are less able to exercise these constraints. Much that was previously assumed to be environmentally determined is now known to have a genetic component; this certainly applies to intelligence and possibly also to the capacity for personal responsibility. Rising crime may be the result of a selection bias against these desirable qualities, a type of reverse evolution.

In our society, nothing is more sacrosanct and sensitive than the freedom to determine one's family size. Nobody wants to adopt drastic methods like those of the Chinese, let alone punish any criminal by castration, as suggested by Teresa Gorman, MP. But the price of our humanity and tolerance will be high: crime will continue to increase.

Yours faithfully,


(Consultant psychiatrist)


Hereford & Worcester

13 February