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Last Updated: Monday, 21 August 2006, 02:38 GMT 03:38 UK
Met chief makes 'open door' claim
Sir Ian Blair
Sir Ian says people in Haringey feel as safe as they did 25 years ago
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said parts of London are returning to an era of neighbourliness and low crime.

He said residents in Haringey, north London, are now happy to leave their front doors open and unlocked.

Sir Ian said community-based Safer Neighbourhood Teams were making people feel as safe as they did 25 years ago.

He also likened neighbourhood police team leaders to "the sheriff" who dealt with matters in their area.

In an interview with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Sir Ian told of a recent visit to Haringey during which he met two officers who had "adopted" a tower block.

'Interesting things'

He said: "How long is it since the police patrolled the corridors of a tower block?

"It's as if, when the slums they replaced were flattened and they put that up, the police stopped patrolling, so it's quite an interesting concept, and people are opening their doors, leaving their doors open now, or leaving then unlocked, certainly, in a way they haven't done for 25 years, so there's some interesting things going on."

I might feel comfortable leaving my front door open, but I doubt if my insurers would!
Clive, Stoke

Metropolitan Police Authority member Damian Hockney told the Times newspaper that Sir Ian's remarks were "truly extraordinary".

Neil Williams, Liberal Democrat leader on Haringey council, also said he was surprised by the comments.

He told the newspaper: "Community policing has brought enormous benefits in making people safer and encouraging them to report crime.

"But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, people still need to take sensible precautions with their home security and I'm sure the police officers in that area would say that, too."

'Damaging incident'

During his interview with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Sir Ian described the death of Jean Charles de Menezes as a "damaging incident" to his force's reputation.

The Brazilian was shot seven times at Stockwell tube station after he was mistaken for a suicide bomber in the wake of the 7 July suicide attacks in London.

"Do I think that the death of Mr de Menezes was a damaging incident to the reputation of the Metropolitan Police Service? Of course I do.

"I mean, what else could it be. We shot an innocent man, and we then did not handle the consequences of it well."

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