PEOPLE have been queuing up to defend their community following a week-long media storm branding Lewisham the "least peaceful" place in the UK.

Lewisham was in the spotlight last week after being ranked bottom of the UK Peace Index based on stats from 2003 to 2012.

But councillors, MPs, residents and community leaders have stepped up to say they are "proud" of the borough and stress the figures are not a true reflection of life in Lewisham.

Barry Mizen, the father of murdered Lee schoolboy Jimmy, said: "Lewisham is a good place to live. I am proud to live in Lewisham.

"I was surprised by the survey. I suppose it is interesting in that the conclusion it comes to are the economic difficulties."

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock says a recent council survey showed 91 per cent of Lewisham residents felt safe during the day and 83 per cent were "satisfied" with Lewisham as a place to live.

He went on to say the report shows poverty and economic opportunity are closely linked to peace and so it was "no surprise" the less peaceful areas were also the most economically challenged."

The borough was judged to have a homicide rate double the national average but the study also highlighted the high levels of deprivation in the area - closely linked to peacefulness.

Lewisham’s homicide rate - including murder, manslaughter and infanticide - ranked at two and a half times the national average with 2.5 in 2012 in the UKPI report comparing 343 local authorities.

The five indicators for the peacefulness of an area were: number of homicides, number of violent crimes, weapons crime, public disorder offences, and the number of police officers per 100,000 people.

Knife crime, social deprivation, and a high number of teenage pregnancies were all deemed major problems in Lewisham with Lewisham Central ward seeing the bulk of the borough’s crime. 

News Shopper: Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson, 50, from Hither Green: "I’ve lived here for five years and I haven’t seen anything.

"It’s not any worse than anywhere else, there’s generally not that many kids lurking around on the street.

"But, it is a deprived and condensed area, so obviously conflict will arise."

News Shopper: Barry Mizen, left, says he is "proud" to live in Lewisham

Barry Mizen: "There have been some unfortunate incidents - it shows Lewisham is in need of investment."

"My concern is that the focus would be to point the blame at young people and I think that is unfair.

"We are working with some fantastic young people who are doing the 10,000 Hands campaign - getting the schools working together."

News Shopper: Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock

Sir Steve Bullock "We are working very hard to support our community to accelerate progress to become more peaceful.

"We are very proud of the efforts of people like the Mizen family and 16-year-old Camilla Yahaya and the Young Citizens project who are working hard to spread that message of peace."

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Joan Ruddock - Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford "I think most people do enjoy living in Lewisham - it has many positive factors - lots of leisure activities, good schools and excellent transport links.

"The numbers involved in violent crime are really quite small compared to the population. Most people are not affected by violent crime.

"Lewisham is not a warzone - there are not gangs rushing through the borough all the time."

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Lewisham Borough Commander Supt Russell Nyman said: "Overall crime in Lewisham has fallen by 9.3 per cent over the last year - that's 2,537 fewer crimes in the borough and we have seen decreases in offences in some key areas such as knife crime, robbery and violence against person compared to last year."