The independent London newspaper

Moped crime: Let’s tackle the lure of gangs

08 June, 2018

• AT 10.20am on Tuesday, raiders on mopeds targeted a luxury jewellers in Regent Street. It was all over the national news that night.

Twenty minutes later the crime scene shifted to Islington, to the Cally and the Bemerton estate. A rapid police response resulted in arrests.

The Bemerton’s layout provides many escape routes, but on Tuesday police had sufficient numbers to give chase. And they had a helicopter!

Why are moped-enabled offences happening? Some people say it’s poverty and the austerity decade. But it’s more than that.

Right across London we’ve seen a sharp upswing in disaffected young people; kids becoming marginalised in schools; the absence of (male) role models; family stress including domestic violence; a shortage of jobs for unskilled young men; an urban culture glamourising crime and violence; and a powerful economic incentive from the lucrative drugs economy.

So, that’s a toxic brew already. But then add in swingeing cuts to the police service. In Islington, we have lost a third of our borough-based cops since 2010.

The absence of police routinely present on our streets – especially neighbourhood officers – is really beginning to show. And the criminal gangs have noticed it too. That’s why crimes are becoming more and more audacious. And violent.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged “zero tolerance” of moped-enabled crimes. Tuesday morning’s massive police response shows the Met is indeed getting tough on these kinds of crimes.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have to get tough on the causes of these crimes. Sorry, that’s rehashing a phrase first coined almost 25 years ago. It was true then and now. We need enforcement and prevention. Not one or the other. Both.

Public agencies across London have to get serious about “turning off the tap” – properly solving the reasons why vulnerable young people are lured into gangs and criminality.

That means investing big time in youth services – especially those targeted at the most challenging young people.

That means psychological health interventions; providing strong role models; getting them into real jobs paying a decent wage; and showing kids how to give respect and earn respect.

If we don’t do this, the trouble is going to get worse.

Labour, Caledonian ward


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