The handover: An open letter from Jacqui Smith to Theresa May

Dear Theresa,

Many congratulations on your appointment as Home Secretary. If you can find a way to get a pound for everyone who tells you the job is a "poisoned chalice", you will be on the way to defending the police budget from cuts I fear are heading your way.

Please try to resist those who say police numbers don't count – they do. Some senior police voices will try to suggest too much emphasis has been placed on neighbourhood policing and building confidence. They're wrong.

You know as a constituency MP that if people don't think the police are bothered about the things that worry them, such as antisocial behaviour, they won't report crime or act as witnesses. Crime will be harder to tackle without communities. I know you share my commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence against women. But now you will have to make your many male colleagues deliver if women are going to carry on getting safer.

As Home Secretary, I stripped out all but one police target – that they build confidence that they are tackling people's priorities. This is a stronger way to ensure they are really accountable than electing a distant, single police commissioner. As the second female Home Secretary, I hope you'll agree that "big (male) beasts" clashing at the top of each police force isn't the best way to ensure real progress. If you doubt this, just look across the river to [London's] City Hall!

I faced a terrorist attack in my first 24 hours in the job. I hope you have a quieter start. But you will soon be briefed on the scale and nature of the threat facing Britons at home and abroad. It is serious and will weigh on you. There is much you won't be able to talk about publicly, but where you can, I hope you will.

Our work to tackle terrorism is rooted in the values we are trying to protect: democracy, tolerance and liberty. The balance with security provides some of the most difficult challenges for any Home Secretary.

Many lives have been saved by the brave and professional officers in the security and intelligence agencies. They are facing intense scrutiny from the courts and police investigation over torture allegations. If allegations are upheld, there should obviously be consequences. But you are the public voice for those brave people who can't argue their case publicly. Do what you can to protect their work and their morale or we will all be less safe.

Immigration has been a real issue in this election campaign – from the national debates to the doorsteps. Net immigration is coming down. However, you will have a real job handling the expectations as your idea of a cap on migration from outside Europe will cover only two out of five of those coming into the UK.

Don't try to blame the department when your policy doesn't work. The Home Office may have been "not fit for purpose" in earlier years but it was much fitter by the time I left!

Despite our political differences, you have my very best wishes. The job is tough, the pressure and profile will be high and some of the focus on your gender will be irritating. We both know what it's like to be known by aspects of our appearance rather than our record. I'm glad that you have the job – keeping people safe is real "women's work".

Jacqui.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links