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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
City taken aback by criticism
By Mark Simpson
BBC News

The people of Nottingham seem taken aback by their new-found status as inhabitants of "England's most dangerous city", a label given to them by think tank Reform.

Police with yob
Nottingham is gaining a reputation - rightly or wrongly - for crime

Reform ranked urban areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants using police data on different types of crime.

Yes, there is a recognition that it's a city with a gun problem, but there is some surprise at the suggestion that it is worse in the Midlands than in London.

In a random - and unscientific sample - of lunchtime shoppers in Nottingham city centre, more than half of those questioned felt the "crime capital of England" tag was unfair.

"Like all cities, it depends exactly where you are, how safe you feel," said one student. "But, to be honest, I think that's the same in all British cities and beyond."

One middle-aged man, in a wheelchair, admitted that he felt "very vulnerable".

But he added: "I find it hard to believe that it's any worse than Leeds, Liverpool, London or Manchester."

'Assassination city'

Nottingham is steeped in history, particularly with its Robin Hood connection, but it is rapidly gaining a reputation - rightly or wrongly - for murder and gun crime.

Tabloid newspapers have branded it "Shottingham" and "Assassination City".

This think tank is all tank and no think
Council official

The area's dark side hit the headlines with the recent shooting of a female police officer, Rachael Bown, and the killing two years ago of 14-year-old Danielle Beccan on her way home from a fairground.

Privately, council chiefs realise that once a city gains a bad reputation it's very difficult to shake it.

However, they regard the latest crime report as fundamentally flawed and their "rapid rebuttal unit" has been in full flow since the survey was published on Tuesday by the independent think tank Reform.

"This think tank is all tank and no think," muttered one angry council official.

The council points to redevelopment in the city centre as evidence of a city on the way up, not the way down. There are certainly plenty of tall red cranes visible on the city skyline but, of course, Nottingham is best judged at street level.

Robin Hood may have put the city on the international map but local "hoodies" have put it in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

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