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Martin Davis obituary

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My husband, Martin Davis, who has died aged 69, successfully worked for crime reduction in inner city London. As head of community safety in Hackney from 1998 to 2008 he brought public, private sector and community organisations together to tackle crime and promote community cohesion.

Hackney was at that time one of the most socially deprived local authorities in England. Martin’s initiatives gained nationwide recognition when Hackney exceeded its crime reduction targets ahead of every other London borough. Incidents of knife- and gun-related crime dropped by a third. When he moved on to the Metropolitan Police Authority, he left a confident and effective unit.

I met Martin on a kibbutz in 1974. By that time he had been in Israel for almost two years. It was not hard to fall for this engaging, bearded Brit. In 1976 we moved into our first flat together in London. We married 10 years later.

Martin was born in Southend, Essex, the younger child of Nathan Davis, a photographer, and his wife, Mary (nee Leiferman), into a well established Jewish community. He attended Fairfax high school and Southend College of Technology. Since childhood he had been fascinated by history, politics and people. There was nothing he was not interested in, darts excepted.

In the mid 1970s Martin studied social work at West London Institute (now part of Brunel University) and qualified (and worked) as a probation officer. After an MA in criminology at Birmingham University (1981-83), he developed a career in local government. On retiring, he became director in 2012 of London Communities Policing Partnership, an umbrella organisation for the 32 London boroughs, focusing on community and police engagement.

Intellectually curious, modest and upbeat, Martin loved his life. Diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer, he said: “I’ve been so lucky to have done what I did, to have a great family, to live in a beautiful part of the world [Twickenham] with good friends – and pubs – and no financial worries.” He was profoundly conscious of having lived in an exceptional era, marked by peace rather than the wars that defined previous generations.

Martin broke the rules when it came to talking about cancer. He was honest about his illness and philosophical about dying. A passionate believer in the EU, it amused him to think that he would die a European citizen.

He is survived by me, and by our sons, Luke and Bram.

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