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British pol compares his city to The Wire

A British politician spent a night with cops in Manchester's gang unit and promptly compared what he saw to The Wire, prompting what the Brits call a row over crime and grime. I've already fielded calls from reporters at the BBC and the Manchester Evening News over the issue.

I told them that yes the fictional Wire portrays a very real problem in Baltimore of gangs, drugs and violence. And yes, the show serves as an wake up call for all of to fix the problem instead of complaining about how we're portrayed. We're to blame as much as anyone for letting this culture of violence continue to the point where Baltimore has become, with the help of a TV show, the international symbol for American violence cities.

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But at the same time the comparison to Manchester seems a bit of a stretch, and says more about how politicans hype crime than anything about Baltimore. Manchester has a population of about 400,000 and roughly 35 murders a year, compared to the 230 to 250 or so in Baltimore. None of the murders this year have involved guns.

Here's what Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling had to say:

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The newspaper then sent me some counter remarks from British Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who accuxed his "Tory shadow of trying to sound 'cool' with 'glib references' to TV shows:

Here are comments from readers of the Manchester Evening News:

We all come in line with the EU but we have all forgotten that most eropean police are routinely armed if you go to france,Italy,Spain and most other european cities you will see all the police are armed but if you go to any city/town in the UK the police have bits of steel called "Batons" To fight these criminals with guns? How quaint but it dosnt work in our country anymore we need all police to be armed and the red tape that the police have to abide by removing including the "PC Human rights act" this needs scrapping totally. to stop the tail wagging the dog.

Having only lived in Moss Side for 24 years, and only having seen the first season of The Wire i have to say that given my limited exposure.

Now give the cops the same hardware they get on The Wire, and start imposing the same sentances on crooks that the US does, before it gets any worse.

Having visited all the major American cities and worked in Moss Side for Manchester City Council for over thirty years I feel I am in a position to offer an opinion on this politician view.I find his views not only to be complete rubbish but also offensive.There is absolutely no comparison between American cities and Moss Side,I have always felt safe day or night in Moss Side, whereas in America some districts, in the large cities,are no go areas and when in Chicago, two years ago, my wife and I were picked up by the police, when we entered one of these no go areas and taken back to our hotel for our own safety.

His comments are solely to grab headlines and pander to stereotypes. Did he not get out and meet the real people of the area? Why doesn't he visit community groups, schools and local businesses trying to set the right example and the right tone for the area?

It's far easier for him to rake over sensationalist media labels from years ago than to give credit for the enormous progress made by local hardworking people.

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