Criminologists are forever dreaming up new causes for criminal behaviour. They include being brought up in a single parent environment, being removed from a parent, being left with the wrong parent, dad/mum in prison, criminal genes, having a twin whose sibling is disposed to crime, illiteracy, poverty. 

The list is almost endless and hours of academic fun can be had in supporting and, it seems, preferably disproving the theories by inserting what we sociologists call variables. This means that the balance shifts from, say, environment, if the child had a stable background, and from a stable background if the environment is wrong.

According to a report in the Sunday Times the latest cause of criminal behaviour seems to be exclusion from the classroom from the age of two onwards. A study by Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, found that tots who are thrown out of nursery for disruptive behaviour such as biting other children (or, when a little older, out of class for attacking a teacher with a hockey stick) will suffer such irreparable damage that they will almost inevitably become bank robbers or something worse such as cybercriminals.

I have always thought that giving the child the wrong forenames is likely to set it off on a life of criminality – and I’m pleased to say that a study last year by lawyers in Australia tends to support this. Running names of those convicted of offences through a computer threw up Leon as the one with most assaults to its name. It was followed in crime generally by Ivan, Ali, Gerald and Roy. On the distaff side Robin was followed by Kym, Nicole, Lee and Shannon.

I’m pleased to say that my own name – and the names of members of the Gazette staff –were well down the table. On the other hand, it may be that the environment in which the ill-named child grows up may have a malign influence. More research is surely required. 

James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor