Sir Michael Caine has said the values of the old East End are gone forever amid London’s rising knife crime.
The 85-year-old actor lamented the condition of his native city, which he says is “a lot more violent” than the one he knew growing up, ahead of the world premiere of crime caper The King Of Thieves.
Playing the septuagenarian mastermind of the Hatton Garden heist, Brian Reader, Sir Michael said he believes the age of the gentleman criminal is over.
Asked by the Press Association if the values of the old East End are a thing of the past, the Oscar-winner said: “That’s gone now, that’s gone forever.
“It’s a lot more violent. We’ve got all the knife stuff and everything going on now, and guns.
“There are masses of different nationalities in London now, any group of people you’re going to get some of them who are going to be criminals, like some of these white Englishmen were criminals.
“I don’t think you’re going to get that generation of English criminals now.”
The veteran actor stars alongside Ray Winstone, Sir Michael Gambon and Jim Broadbent in the semi-comic tale of the 2015 Hatton Garden heist, among the largest in UK history, for which four elderly men were convicted in 2016.
Drills were used to access safety deposit boxes on an Easter holiday in the non-violent raid.
Sir Michael said he doubted there would be another age of the honourable offender.
He said: “These are all old cockneys, and I don’t recognise a younger generation of them.
“I was from the same district, I wasn’t a criminal but some of them were, including a couple of my relations.
“You have to remember they were just thieves. There was never any violence in what they did. And no weapons.”
There was some hope expressed by the star of Get Carter and The Italian Job.
He said: “It might change back. For a start you need to get back all those policemen you let go.
“In London you don’t see many policemen on the beat anymore.”
King Of Thieves, directed by James Marsh, premiered on September 12.