2 JUNE 2001, Page 32

We are all guilty

From Lady Moody-Stuart Sir: I am a regular and appreciative reader of The Spectator; I really admire the brevity and spirit of most of your contributors, and I don't 'hand it on'! However, I read your leading article 'It's criminal' (19 May), and am responding particularly to the first and last paragraphs.

I believe that, contrary to what you write, 'the decision to commit crime' is merely the immediate cause of normal crime, not the root cause, which is surely poverty.

The poverty of opportunity and lack of a sense of belonging to society, not always material poverty, causes people to behave antisocially. People who feel themselves on the edge of a society that they do not respect will always be with us, but we who sit comfortably within society bear as much responsibility for their crime as they do. For we maintain a society into which they cannot or will not fit except as criminals. We are all responsible and we certainly cannot leave it to the police to deal with. I have been burgled twice in the UK and once in Malaysia, and also have been invaded by protesters (and also have parried two attempted rapes), and there is no doubt in my mind that we are all in it together and we citizens should put more of the country's wealth into easing criminal outsiders back into our society, not barricading them out of it.

Judy Moody-Stuart,

London El