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".


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas