Over the past week, our crime correspondent and his opposite number from the US city of Baltimore have been reporting on each other's patches. The idea was to find out not only how true to reality was the depiction of the urban underworld now familiar to British television viewers from The Wire, but also to find out how our own crime black spots and policing appear from outside. And there is more good news than bad.
Our collection, and retention, of DNA from suspects looks excessive. Our police force is not nearly as diverse as we perhaps like to think, with only one black detective in a 25-strong Trident team investigating black-on-black gun crime. But the murder and poverty rates in Baltimore are in quite another league compared with anywhere in Britain. In Baltimore last year, there were 36 murders per 100,000 people; in London the comparable figure was two. Seen in that perspective, you cannot but conclude, with some relief, that things could be infinitely worse.