Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid says he "could have been taken in to a life of crime" after growing up in a tough neighbourhood.

Mr Javid, the Home Secretary, said he avoided getting involved in drug dealing or shoplifting as a teenager because of support from his parents, teachers and his girlfriend, who has since become his wife.

But he said some young people were not so lucky, warning: "Before a young person ever picks up a knife, they have been the victim of a string of lost opportunities and missed chances."

Mr Javid was one of a number of senior Conservative politicians to set out their values in speeches or interviews today, in what has been seen as part of the battle to become the next Tory leader.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has said she will quit before the next general election. She is currently on a walking holiday in Wales.

Mr Javid talked about growing up in Bristol, on what has been called "the most dangerous street in Britain".

He said: "It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime.

"There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help.

"The drug dealers who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.

"But I was lucky. I had loving and supporting parents, who despite their own circumstances gave me security.

"I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me to go further than what was expected of me. I even had a girlfriend who believed in me and supported me despite my lack of prospects and went onto to become my wife.

"Thanks to them all I have built a better life for myself and my family. With their help, I suppose, I made it."

Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit in Northfield
Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit in Northfield

But he admitted that today, he was worried about the safety of his own teenage children.

"Take knife crime. Like everyone else I see the reports on young people feeling the need to carry weapons it makes me worry about my teenage children.

"Will they be hurt if they’re out in the wrong place at the wrong time on a night out? What if they get into an argument that then escalates?

"I may be the Home Secretary but I’m not ashamed to confess; I have stayed up late at night waiting to hear the key turning in the door."

 

Mr Javid set out measures he said would fight violent crime, including increasing police funding, introducing new laws on carrying knives or acid, making it easier for police to stop and search people and introducing a "public health approach" to violent crime, so that public services such as education, health, social services, housing, youth and social workers all play a role.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, seen as another possible leadership candidate, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme  - and did not deny he wanted to succeed Mrs May.

Boris Johnson speaks at a Conservative home fringe meeting

But he said: “I have to focus on getting Brexit sorted.”

The front-runner among grassroots Tory members is still Boris Johnson, who has been strengthened by Mrs May's decision to go into talks over a softer Brexit with Labour.

 

The former foreign secretary's latest Daily Telegraph column sets out his leadership stall, calling for the country to be able to move on from Brexit and refocus on tax cuts and tackling crime.