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London Life Q-Z
Jacqui Smith. Getty Images
Do you feel safe in London?
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted she wouldn't feel safe walking around parts of London at night. Do you agree?
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted she would not feel safe walking around London after dark.
Ms Smith told the Sunday Times that she would not be comfortable alone at night in deprived parts of the capital, as well as more affluent areas.
Asked if she would feel safe walking alone in the Hackney neighbourhood, Ms Smith replied: "Well, no, but I don't think I'd have ever have done."
Labour says crime is down compared to the Tories' time in power in the 1990s.
In the interview with the Sunday Times, Ms Smith was asked why she would not feel safe on Hackney's streets at night.
She replied: "Well, I just don't think that's a thing that people do, is it, really?"
She was also questioned about how she would feel if she was walking through the more affluent area of Kensington and Chelsea after dark.
"Well, I wouldn't walk around at midnight and I'm fortunate that I don't have to do that," she said.
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I would not be surprised if politically, the Home Secretary came to regret her comments about personal safety made at the weekend;all the more surprising given that she has police protection as a member of the cabinet.I nonetheless sympathise with the sentiment that she expressed both from a personal perspective and from the perspective of a parent of three children looking to have greater independence as they grow into their teenage years.For London dealing with the reality and perception of personal safety in what has been described as a fractured society corrupted by insularity and fear; is a major challenge facing Capital.
Several instances of street safety merit mention but I will refer to two that have directly affected my family in the recent past.
My 16 year old son was mugged in Kensington in June at about 3.30 pm in the afternoon.He was with a friend in a busy street; he lost his 'phone, his friend lost his Ipod.There were no "witnesses".
I am a Governor of a school in Hammersmith. Leaving a meeting at about 8.45pm I was effectively "chased" up King Street into the Holiday Inn Express by a group of "hoodies" who crossed and re-crossed the street whilst I tried to "shake" them off. Whether theft,violence or just conversation was their motive,I shall never know.Hammersmith is never an easy place to hail a cab but the Mayor's initiative to raise cab fare's after 8.00pm just seems to mean there are fewer cabs available as drivers hit their target takings earlier in the evening and quite understandably,chose to take more leisure time.Tube travel as a "suit" in many part of the network after 9.00pm are at best humiliating and at worst dangerous.The London media has an important role to play so that effective long term solutions are identified and implemented and short term, politically motivated"quick wins" exposed for what they are.
I am in contact with many police officers both serving and those recently retired. Jacqui Smith is quite right in what she says.
A lot of police officers in London even restrict which parts of London there adult sons and daughters get holiday jobs during breaks from university.
Unfortunately the Police spin doctors are very good putting out a picture that crime is going down in most areas, local papers often do not get full information and the public never get a full picture.
Crimes are under reported and prosecutions often do not reflect the severity of the crime as the CPS down grade crime as well – recently a frenzied attack with a knife which two to three years ago would have been a charge of attempted murder goes to court as GBH and that is from the investigating officer!
I am not a great lover of this Government with all its own spin but this time the comment on feeling safe is about right – even I am careful where I go thanks to some off the record advice from the Police I have missed 3 shootings and that on the way to meetings with the police!! Over the last few months.