Of the 18-44 age group only 2 people (both men aged over 25) felt it was safe to walk around Chatham town centre at night, and only a handful more felt safe in Maidstone Town Centre. Only 3 people aged over 45, out of nearly 500 responses, felt safe in Chatham Town Centre at night. This is so sad - both Chatham and Maidstone have the ability to be really vibrant town centres with good restaurants and entertainment venues. But if people are too scared to walk through them at night - as I was myself after a recent dinner at Yoons Restaurant - then they won't go out into town at the expense of the local economy.
Almost every person who replied wanted to see a zero-tolerance approach on all crime, and the majority thought it was wrong to reclassify cannabis (there is an excellent article on the dangers of cannabis in today's Kent on Sunday). What surprised me most about the latter answer was that the strength of opposition to the reclassification by under 25 year olds - those often portrayed as pro-"soft drugs".
Only 7 under 44 year olds agreed with the new 24 hour drinking laws - and unsurprisingly the majority of those were under 25! Only 6 respondents over 45 agreed but the vast majority thought that all day drinking has led to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour and the law should be reviewed. Unfortunately this Government is in denial on the whole issue of 24-hour drinking. The statistics from the police, local authorities and hospitals all show that the relaxation of licensing laws was a bad policy decision - and all the stats were predicted by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis when I was working for him over 3 years ago.
I shall be sending a summary of these results to David Davis for his information, but in the meantime I thank all those who took the time to fill out the survey and send back to me - it is much appreciated.