Muggers targeted for high-tech drive

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The Independent Online
Police yesterday lifted the lid on the latest element of their controversial strategy designed to curb mugging in London, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Police divisions which suffer worst from street crime will be issued with an array of high-tech information-gathering equipment in the next four months as part of Operation Eagle Eye.

The operation provoked a storm when the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, wrote to community leaders warning that many of those to be targeted would be black, as statistics showed a high number of muggings were carried out by young black males.

Yesterday, Assistant Commissioner Ian Johnston said initial statistics, which showed clear-up rates improving, supported the stance taken by Sir Paul, though he refused to disclose the figures for fear of re-igniting the furore.

Instead he focused on the power that the new tools would give the officers in the 25 divisions to tackle mugging, second only to burglary as Londoners' greatest crime fear. "We want to put fear into the hearts of those criminals who commit street robberies," said Mr Johnston. "We want them to know they stand a very strong risk of going to jail. It's no idle threat."

The packages of surveillance equipment will include hand-held video cameras, low-light cameras, hidden radios and unmarked vehicles to keep watch on suspects. Lap-top computers will allow officers to show victims pictures of convicted muggers at the scene in a bid to identify their attackers.

The technology drive will be supplemented by a high-profile publicity campaign featuring giant posters at hundreds of sites. There will also be two radio advertisements featuringmuggers locked up in cells.

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