James Forsyth

Our defeatist Home Secretary

Our defeatist Home Secretary
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Jacqui Smith’s comment about why she doesn’t walk around at night sums up what is wrong with the establishment attitude to crime. Here’s the exchange between the Home Secretary and Isabel Oakeshott:

IO: Would you feel safe, walking round, say, Hackney, at midnight on your own? 

JS: Well, no, but I don’t think I’d ever have done. You know, I would never have done that, at any point during my life.

IO: Why not? 

JS: Well, I just don’t think that’s a thing that people do, is it, really?

Implicit in Smith’s answer is the belief that crime is inevitable and that if you don’t want to be mugged you don’t go out late at night. As the reduction in crime in New York shows, it doesn’t have to be this way.

As long as politicians and officials treat crime as an inevitable fact of modern urban life it will never be dealt with. What we need is a Home Secretary, police chiefs and civil servants who don’t accept that we all have to accept that walking around after dark is a risk. If we elected our police chiefs,  I doubt that they would carry on viewing crime as just a fact of life.

If you look at New York’s crime statistics it is clear that crime has been reduced not just displaced. Indeed, I was in an “up and coming neighbourhood” in Brooklyn over New Year and I felt considerably safer walking around there in the wee hours of the morning than I would in most of London.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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