Rishi Sunak has said he fears for his daughter’s safety when out alone, saying that men have often taken their own freedoms for granted.
Sunak spoke candidly about his elder daughter Krishna’s desire for more independence but said he was disturbed by a number of crimes including the killing of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, the nine-year-old shot dead in Liverpool.
He said he was determined to crack down on crime including being prepared to put many more criminals in prison and increasing jail places.
“My eldest is at the age where she is wanting to walk places by herself and that’s why we were not in that flat in Downing Street in that last term when I was chancellor,” Sunak said in a conversation with reporters this week. Krishna had hoped to start walking to school for her last term of primary school, a freedom that was eventually deemed impossible.
Sunak said he had been disturbed by a number of crimes over the summer. “It brings it home to you as a parent and again over the summer the awful things that we read about with the young girl Olivia, which we’ll all remember,” he said.
“I want to make sure that my kids and everyone else can walk around safely. That’s what any parent wants for their children … in the past I’ve taken [safety] for granted – and many of us as men have. The events of the last year showed us that so many women and girls have not felt as safe as they should.
“So tackling that and making it safer for people is something that’s just personally quite important to me.”
Sunak said it was an ambition over his premiership to reduce crime. “I view it as a part of levelling up,” he said. “It’s often people who are in parts of the country that may feel that they’ve been looked over in the past, or that are from more disadvantaged backgrounds that crime impacts the most.
“I want to deliver for those people. Putting more police officers on the street to reduce neighbourhood crime is incredibly important to me.”
But the prime minister said he was relaxed about the prospect of more people going to prison, which he said was “a logical consequence of catching more criminals … if you put more police officers on the street and you tackle more crime, you’re going to end up with more people in jail”.
Sunak also spoke about his family’s adjustment to living in Downing Street, including moving back into the smaller flat the family had lived in when he was Chancellor, and having almost no time to see his family in the past fortnight, since becoming prime minister.
“In one sense it’s quite familiar for the family so that bit has been easier than it otherwise might have been,” he said. “But it happened quite suddenly so it was a bit of an adjustment for everybody and I’ve been working pretty night and day for the last couple of weeks because there’s a lot to get through … so I haven’t really had time to stop and think.”
Sunak said the moment it had started to really dawn on him was at the Remembrance Day service last Sunday. “To have the opportunity to do that as prime minister … that’s something I’ll never forget. So in among all the other work I have to do, that was a moment where I did for a few seconds actually get to just take in the responsibility that I’ve got in this new job – and that was a pretty special moment which I won’t forget.”