CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Police say there is a “crossover” between phone snatches, drug dealing and knife violence

Public told to join fight against crime by not looking at phones while walking

25 September, 2018 — By William McLennan

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt in Camden Town, one of the moped crime hotspots

Reducing the number of phone snatches will also help tackle drug dealing and knife violence, police said as they urged people to join the fight against moped crime by making themselves less of an inviting target.

Speaking at the launch of the crime prevention campaign at a phone shop in Camden Town, Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “I think there is a crossover with some of the individuals that are involved in all of those [crimes].

“I think attacking any of those types of crime has got to help overall in the general public safety in a place like Camden.”

Scotland Yard said that people should not text while walking and instead “stand away from a roadside, near a wall, so no one can come up behind you”.

The crime prevention campaign also advises people not to “openly display high value jewellery” and keep handbags “fastened and close to you”.

AC Hewitt said that “with a few little changes, you can actually make yourself safe” from moped crime, adding:  “It’s not about cowering. I didn’t leave my house this morning and not bother locking the front door. You could argue and say why should I have to? I have to because it’s common sense, isn’t it? This is really just an extension of that.”

Moped crime has been a persistent cause for concern in Camden, with police chiefs facing hostile crowds of victims at public meetings as long ago as 2014.

It continued to increase in prevalence, with 3,462 offences committed between January and August last year.

In the same period this year there were 1,508, a reduction of 56.5 per cent.

The increase in moped crime in 2017 overlapped with the beginning of a rise in youth stabbings in Camden last year, which police at the time said was largely due to competition over Camden Town’s lucrative drugs market.

Yesterday, two police riders took a break from their usual duties to hand flyers to lunchtime shoppers in Camden High Street.

It advises discretion, by not displaying valuable possessions, and urges people to be aware of their surroundings.

“Don’t text while walking as you’ll be distracted,” the flyer reads. “Go hands free or stand away from the roadside, near a wall, so no one can come up behind you.”

It also encourages the use of anti-theft apps and registration on www.immobilise.com.

Police overhauled their approach to the crime in the past 12 months and now have a team of highly-skilled motorbike riders on light-weight bikes.

They are supported by a team of drivers in high-powered cars that are authorised to carry out pursuits and knock suspect moped riders from their bikes – a manoeuvre known as “tactical contact”.

They have also deployed “DNA spray” – which can be used to cover a suspect with a uniquely identifiable code – and remote-controlled “stingers”, that deflate a vehicle’s tyres.

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