We’re winning psychological war with moped bandits, declares Camden’s top cop
Borough Commander sits down with the New Journal for interview
02 August, 2018 — By William McLennan
Borough Commander Iain Raphael
A SHARP decline in moped crime is the result of “psychological warfare” striking fear into the hearts of offenders, Camden’s most senior police officer claimed this week, as he denied the Met had been too slow to tackle London’s phone-snatch bandits.
Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Raphael said that there had been a “massive reduction” in the offences – in which predominantly teenage offenders use stolen mopeds to snatch mobile phones and commit smash-and-grab robberies – with figures showing a fall of more than 90 per cent in 12 months. Police chiefs have repeatedly faced hostile crowds of victims at public meetings in the past four years, with claims that criminals were being allowed to act with impunity.
Dr Raphael, who has a PhD in criminology, told the New Journal: “From a criminological perspective, if you think you are going to get caught, you probably don’t do it. I don’t want residents of Camden or visitors to Camden to have a fear of crime, but I do want those who think they can commit crime to fear being caught. I think if you can change that balance, from the fear on the victim, to the fear on the offender, you will reduce your crime.”
He added: “In some ways it’s psychological warfare, but it’s psychological warfare brought about by convictions, seeing a visible presence, knowing they can’t get away on their bikes because they are being pursued.” Highly-skilled drivers, using nimble “scrambler-style” motorbikes and high-powered cars, had proved instrumental, he said. They are regularly authorised to chase offenders and use “tactical contact” to knock riders from their bikes.
Dr Raphael said the progress was also thanks to the deployment of remotely-controlled “stingers”, which can deflate tyres, “DNA spray guns”, which mark offenders with a unique code, and a team of detectives who are “knowledgeable around the offenders and the methodology”. Linking multiple offences to individuals had “empowered the courts deliver a harsher sentence”, he said, which had a deterrent effect. “I also think it won’t be lost on [sentencing judges], the impact that this crime is having on the wider community,” added Dr Raphael.
Moped crime has been a thorn in the side of the Met for more than a decade and residents held an angry meeting with the then-borough commander Richard Tucker in Hampstead in 2014. Offending soared in the following three years, reaching a peak last summer as Camden experienced 743 “moped-enabled offences” in June 2017.
There were 137 in June this year.
Asked if police had taken too long to act, Dr Raphael said he accepted that “big organisations can be slower to respond, less agile”, but added: “I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I think the challenge with these things is finding what works, like many of these wicked problems. “If it was really obvious at the start, you would do that at the start. I think it has taken time to find the solution, if I’m honest.”