Smith accused of ignoring PM's pledge to cut attacks on women

Jacqui Smith was accused last night of abandoning a pledge by Gordon Brown to reduce attacks on women walking home late at night.

The embattled Home Secretary, already under pressure over her second-home expenses, came under fire after it came to light that she had done nothing to implement the Prime Minister’s promise to set up a police hotline to help women find the safest route home.

In an interview three months ago for a women’s magazine, Mr Brown spoke of the ‘last mile home syndrome’ – whereby young people often walk part of their journey home.

gordon brown
jacqui smith

Embattled: Jacqui Smith (right) is accused of abandoning a pledge by the PM

He  suggested setting up a phoneline that would be ‘like a personal police service, so if you’re going through an area late at night, you can phone them up and say, “What’s the safest way of getting home?”’

But last night, it seemed that the Home Secretary had done nothing at all on the scheme.

One of Ms Smith’s Ministers, Alan Campbell, admitted to MPs in a Parliamentary answer: ‘The Home Office has not done any work to develop a personal phone line for commuters to call to be told their safest route home.’

Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Brokenshire said: ‘Gordon Brown made a big show of this but Jacqui Smith has clearly ignored him and shelved the idea.’

Yesterday, a Home Office source played down the Prime Minister’s pledge, saying: ‘I don’t think saying in a magazine that this is something we’re looking at counts as an announcement.’

But later, a Home Office spokeswoman said the hotline was still under consideration.

‘The first stage is the Policing Pledge, which gives the public a clear minimum standard of service. We will also continue to look at a personal line for callers to be told their safest route home,’ she said.

Embarrassingly for the Government, the admission of a lack of action on the hotline plan came as the Home Office unveiled a new consultation process to raise awareness on violence against women.

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