Street robberies up by 40 per cent as police reveal big rise in crime

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The number of muggings and bag snatches in London has leapt by nearly 40 per cent to a record total of 70,000 in a year. There were also increases in sex and violent crimes, burglaries, and car theft, with an overall rise in offences of 6.3 per cent to 1,057,360.

The number of muggings and bag snatches in London has leapt by nearly 40 per cent to a record total of 70,000 in a year. There were also increases in sex and violent crimes, burglaries, and car theft, with an overall rise in offences of 6.3 per cent to 1,057,360.

In recent months the Metropolitan Police has managed to stem the huge rise in street crime by bringing in hundreds of extra officers. But despite the successes the overall rise in the year to 1 April is alarming.

The 6.3 per cent rise in the total number of reported crimes is also bad news for David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, because the Met is by far the biggest force in the country, accounting for about a fifth of all crimes. This could reverse recent trends and the national total could start to rise. The Met has blamed part of the rise in street crime, which is made up of robbery of personal property and snatches, on having to divert resources from street patrols to deal with the terrorist threat in the aftermath of 11 September.

There were 69,987 street crimes in the year to the end of March – an average of 192 a day – across the capital. There were 160 murders, up by 19 on 2000-01, with nearly 10,000 sex offences, an increase of 13.5 per cent. The clear-up rate fell by 1 per cent to just 14 per cent.

Violent crime went from 155,000 to 161,000 and burglaries of homes rose by about 4,000 to 74,000. Even vehicle break-ins and thefts, which had been dropping in recent years, increased by 9,000 to about 177,000. Scotland Yard says a significant factor in the number of street robberies remains mobile phone theft. A phone is the sole item stolen in a third of all street robberies.

The Met has responded to the rising tide of street crime by mounting "Operation Safer Streets" in which 250 traffic officers were reassigned to tackled crime in the worst-affected boroughs.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Tim Godwin said street crime levels for March this year showed only a 1.3 per cent increase compared with March 2001. He said: "In addition to responding to counter-terrorist needs in the aftermath of 11 September we have seen street crime levels rise throughout the year. As a result we re-prioritised at the start of this year and diverted officers from other duties to tackle street crime."

Arrests were also up for possession of offensive weap- ons, car crime, burglary and supply of class A drugs, he said. "Importantly, we have to look at why so many people, particularly young people, are engaging in crime," he added.