Professor Hamid Ghodse, president of the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board, has had to apologise for lumping Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham in with some of the world's most dangerous cities when speak out against a ‘vicious cycle of social exclusion and drugs problems’ gripping cities across the world.
He described these cities has having no-go areas controlled by drug traffickers, organised crime, and drug users, where law enforcement had failed.
His apology claimed that he was talking of the past in relation to the UK cities.. He acknowledged that police and community action had made a real difference in all three cities. His words he said had been 'lost in translation'
Sadly that damage has been done. His apology will not receive the kind of coverage that his original pronouncement made. All that we can do is to see that the truth gets out there im as many forms as possible.
Even at the height of the gang wars in South Manchester - in the '80s and 90's - none of these areas were 'no go'. The gang related murders almost exclusively involved the drug dealers,couriers, and enforcers themselves. That is not to belittle those deaths or the few that took the lives of innocent bystanders.
I had an office in the heart of Moss Side during that time. I walked and drove all over the area for years, and never once felt truly threatened. Even when I had to sit in my car at 7.30 in the evening waiting for dealers to conclude their trade across the school gates before I could drive in for a meeting with the Governors.
Concerted action by Greater Manchester Police, the community, and the City Council has transformed the area which is now home to thousands of students, young professionals, and local families. Yes there is still crime. Yes there are still gangs. As in all major cities. But no go areas such as those in Brazil, and Mexico, and some of the US cities, do not exist. Nor did they ever.
My Manchester crime fiction stories could be claimed to fuel the misconception voiced by Professor Ghodse. My excuse is that they are only fiction. Nor do they ever suggest that there are no go areas. They are by and large about the pyschology of individual motivations in the committing of crime. I make that clear in preface to my books.
The reality is that Manchester has a 98.6 clear up rate in relation to murders committed in the GMP area. And the annual number of murders is a fraction of those committed in comparable US cities.
If you have friends and aquaintances who live abroad make sure that they know the truth. Manchester is a great and a save place to visit, providing that they take the same sensible precautions that they would when travelling anywhere in the world, including thier own home town.
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