Top Barclays Executive killed on the streets of Norwich.
30th September 2008
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Frank McGarahan, the chief operating officer of Barclays Wealth, was queuing for a taxi on Guildhall Hill in the centre of Norwich when he intervened in an attack. The gang turned on him in a fatal assault.

"What is happening to Norwich?" you might ask, and I am sure that there will be many people shaking their heads and saying "Oh the crime rate is terrible - things are going downhill".

Well, as far as I can see, Norwich is still a fairly safe city as cities go. What happened in Norwich to Frank McGarahan was a terrible event and it is even more shocking to us because it is so unusual. It leaves you reeling to think that this can happen in our city.

When you look at the stats, assaults with injuries in central Norwich have halved recently, although anti-social behaviour is rising in certain neighbourhoods.

The introduction of Safer Neighbourhood Teams seems to be having some effect. These teams work with local communities dealing with issues pertinent to their own area and creating a dialogue with local people to find out what these issues are and how best to deal with them.

Anti social behaviour in the centre of Norwich is always going to be an issue, as in any city.

When we moved here from London, one of the things we loved most was that we weren't so worried about crime any more. I don't walk down the road clutching my handbag, with my elbow ready to swing out at anyone trying to grab me (not that it ever happened). We don't get stones thrown at our door as we come in and out or young kids climbing over the wall between us and the estate next door with briefcases handcuffed to their arms. Here in Norfolk people often still leave their doors unlocked at night.

I must admit, though, that it was a bit of a shock when I came home from an evening event in Norwich when we first moved here, to find that the streets were nearly empty except for a few unsavoury characters as I came down Prince of Wales Road. That did feel more scary than a lot of London. I hadn't realised that there was sometimes safety in crowds.

Research has shown that the fear of crime far outweighs reported figures and crime across the whole of Norfolk has been reduced.

Frank McGarahan was a very brave man and we give his family all our sympathy. Hopefully his actions will set a precedent for others to step in and help people in trouble. In a recent survey of European countries, the UK came bottom in terms of those willing to step in to deal with a public disturbance. Frank McGarahan is to be commended.

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