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Letter: Strong and civil

Sir: In your leading article (19 January), you assert that "social psychologists agree that one of the early signs of the descent of a neighbourhood is a loss of civility."

You do not have to be a psychologist to agree with such a self-evident truth. And who are these social psychologists who agree? It is more usual for psychologists to disagree about things, despite the public perception that psychology is just common sense.

You certainly do not have to be a psychologist to disagree with your analysis: "What begins with ... Jim Reeves music, at three in the morning, ends with crack dealers, vandalism and civic helplessness." That's just plain daft - as we psychologists say.

Yours faithfully, ROB B. BRINER Department of Organisational Psychology Birkbeck College London, WC1