EXCLUSIVE: I felt safer as a cop, says Paddick

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The Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London has added his voice to the controversy around safety on the streets of the city.

In an interview published eight days ago Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admitted that she would not feel safe walking the streets of London at night.

Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk, Mr Paddick said that it was difficult for him to judge how safe people felt on the streets today compared with ten or twenty years ago.

Speaking of his own experiences he said:

“I think you feel more confident if you are carrying a badge, not just because you feel like Superman, but you feel like if something happened to you, your colleagues would perhaps be a little quicker on the scene.

“It’s difficult for me to gauge. But I did palpably feel less confident when I left the police and gave my badge in.”

Until his retirement last year as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Mr Paddick was the UK’s most senior out gay police officer.

Last week Ms Smith told BBC Radio 4 that she did in fact feel safe.

“What I said was that I feel very safe walking around my part of London and where I live in the West Midlands, but actually I think most people, and it would be the official advice, probably wouldn’t walk somewhere, at midnight, that they didn’t know,” she said.

“Our streets are safer, whether in London or anywhere else, and people should feel confident about walking on them.”

ITV programme Tonight, to be shown this evening, focuses on safety on the streets.

A survey for the programme found 56% of women in Britain and 36% of men are afraid to walk around their own area at night.

Mr Paddick faces incumbent Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone and Tory candidate Boris Johnson in the May 1st election for Mayor of London.