Rhiannon Harries: What matters is how safe you feel

Urban Notebook

Related Topics

Everybody has their own map of the city they live in, pieced together around daily journeys and favourite haunts. Unfortunately, I happen to live in a part of town marked with a "no-go" sign on a lot of people's imaginary plan of London.

Although plenty of arty students and young couples have since swept into the area, many non-residents still know Clapton, east London, as "murder mile" thanks to a stint in the media as the site of Britain's deadliest road some years ago.

Friends who live in leafier suburbs prefer not to visit of an evening, and taxi drivers do the in loco parentis "I hope you don't walk around here on your own at night, young lady" speech.

So when I got hold of the latest crime stats for the local borough, I was hoping to coax a few of my more nervous friends into giving my neighbourhood a second chance. Crime fell by 3.5 per cent (better than the London 2.3 per cent average) last year and there were almost 10,000 fewer victims than a decade ago. Surely that counts for something?

Well, apparently not – particularly since I was forced to admit that while knife crime is down, incidents involving guns have risen. "Great, so I'll be killed by a stray bullet rather than a knife?" one unconvinced west London-dweller quipped.

Crime figures do little good for public perceptions of personal safety because fear is always irrational to a certain extent. Anything above zero is enough to feed existing doubts, which themselves come from anecdotal evidence, previous experience of crime and simply the way an area looks. In the same way that I subconsciously believe it will never happen to me, others see a couple of kids on bikes and instantly think it will happen to them.

Still, I concede that my friends will indeed be safer if they continue to avoid coming to my place for dinner. Their chances of food poisoning, for instance, will be considerably reduced.

Not such modern dress

Efforts to make intimidating art forms accessible to a broader cross-section are laudable. But the contemporary staging of Cosi fan tutte that I saw last weekend at Covent Garden demonstrated the difficulty of appealing to an audience of differing generations. Whilst the mobile phones and Starbucks cups blended seamlessly into the action, the transformation of the 18th-century lovers into modern-day rock stars was more 1980s Guns 'n' Roses than Kings of Leon. Still, it was the right reference for the older half of the audience and I'm pretty sure my own ideas would probably have seemed passé to the teenagers sitting in the next row.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor