Only connect

Mark Leonard is partly right - we do feel safer on the streets after dark when there are plenty of people about ("Just get out and have fun!", 4 December). He should realise, however, that not all cities close down at midnight: Bristol at 3am on Friday and Saturday is a good deal busier than it is at 3pm! But more than that, there is a philosophical change which still needs to be made. This is not the responsibility of planners, but of the public. If people engage with each other - as neighbours, friends, communities - rather than isolating themselves in front of the television, then we all become safer. In this aspect of political philosophy, we are all still in Thatcher's disconnected nightmare.

Nigel Dickinson

Mark Leonard made a few positive points on cutting crime, but turning the streets into playgrounds is no answer. If he were a pensioner living in a bungalow with a grove on one side and a cul-de-sac on the other, and both were turned into noise hells by football and other hooligans "going out and having fun", he would not be so smug about some of his crime solutions. To anyone suffering such noise nuisance "hell is other people and heaven is being alone".

W F Whitehouse
West Bromwich, West Midlands

This article first appeared in the 18 December 1998 issue of the New Statesman, A time for unadulterated tradition