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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 16:37 GMT
Blunkett tells Danielle: 'I care'
Clergywoman Anna Ratcliff with Home Secretary David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett visited a community centre in Nottingham
Home Secretary David Blunkett has signed a book of condolence for murdered school girl Danielle Beccan.

He also met her father and friends, plus police officers and youth workers in St Ann's on his visit to Nottingham.

The minister, on a tour to talk about drug and gun crime on Friday, wrote: "David Blunkett: I did not know you but I care."

Danielle, 14, was shot on 9 October as she walked home from a fair. Two men have been charged with murder.

Budget shortfalls

Danielle's former dance teacher and friend, Roxine Curuthers, 18, said: "He and whoever he works with all need to help this community.

"He didn't say he would in so many words but I am hoping he will."

Things in Nottingham have improved and we must not let this tragedy take away from what is going on.
David Blunkett MP

Local clergywoman Anna Ratcliff opened the meeting, held at the Chase Community Centre in St Ann's, which has just been awarded 30,000 by the Home Office.

She said his presence indicated "a commitment to the issues of gun crime and particularly in relation to recent events regarding Danielle Beccan."

Chief constables and police authorities in the East Midlands have raised concerns in recent months about projected budget shortfalls running into millions of pounds.

Drug treatment

They have warned a looming cash crisis could hinder frontline operations.

Mr Blunkett has also announced the extension of a pilot project to restrict bail conditions on drug users who are arrested.

Piloted in Nottingham, Manchester and Salford, it gives courts powers to order drug assessment and treatment as conditions of bail.

It will be extended to 39 new areas across the UK by April next year.

Mr Blunkett told a press conference on Friday: "I met with Danielle's father last night and I met with Danielle's friends this morning.

"I have talked with them about how determined they are that we should not let her death be an example of despair but an example we should use to turn around young people and say enough is enough.

'Not Chicago'

"The tragic death of Danielle was one of those awful occasions when, despite the effort of young people, a drive-by killing raises the whole issue again of what things are like in Nottingham.

"Things in Nottingham have improved and we must not let this tragedy take away from what is going on.

"It is not in the interest of anybody to paint a picture of Nottingham as Chicago in the 1930s, as some people have tried to do."

Mr Blunkett said Nottingham could be a "symbol of turnaround" rather than the symbol of disaster that some people are trying to paint it.




SEE ALSO:
How should we tackle gun crime?
22 Oct 04  |  Have Your Say
City's vigil for victim Danielle
22 Oct 04  |  Nottinghamshire


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