London – like any other major, highly-populated city – is the scene for an array of different criminal activity. The risk to personal security is inevitable and often unpreventable. However, within the spectrum of crime that is committed, certain trends of activity develop, and an awareness of these can help reduce the risk of falling victim to one of them.
In recent months, London has seen a new threat forming, this being the Moped gangs that ride around the city ‘two-up’ often with no helmets or registration plates and snatch mobile phones off unsuspecting pedestrians on the street before speeding off. Additionally, there has been a huge increase in the number of acid attacks and knife crime; both of which have been given significant media coverage and consequently are sources of great anxiety and concern for the general public and tourists alike.
‘Phone-Snatching’ is undoubtedly the newest and most prevalent trend to hit London’s streets. Incidents in which thieves on stolen Mopeds ride along the pavement and grab mobiles from the hands of unsuspecting and unaware pedestrians have become almost a pandemic in recent months; so much so that the City of London Police have issued special warning posters and flyers to raise awareness.
It’s lucrative and easy for criminals; research has found that young people can carry belongings with a value of over £500 on a day-to-day basis, so the potential profits are very high given the number of students, tourists and professionals in London. This is especially the case when some thieves have stolen up to 21 in a single hour.
Metropolitan Police data states that there were 16,158 thefts by people on Mopeds, between July 2016 and June 2017. This is a dramatic increase on the 12 months before that, in which only 5,145 incidents of the same nature were recorded.
The main hotspot for these incidents is the borough of Islington. In the last year, 2,417 Moped related offences were recorded, which was over 500 more than the second most frequently affected borough of Hackney. Also illustrating this is the fact that according to the Superintendent of Islington Police, ‘3 or 4 Mopeds are wheeled in each day’ – thereby showing how often Mopeds are stolen in order to carry out these thefts.
Can they be prevented? It’s not easy to prevent what is actually quite an innovative and unpredictable crime. However, the Police has launched a ‘Be Safe’ Campaign which focuses on the security of scooters in order to prevent them being stolen to use for other crimes. The Police are raising awareness of the importance of locking scooters correctly, such as fastening it to a wall/fence in the same way that you would with a bicycle, as well as talking to those in the industry to try and improve the security of Mopeds.
A fact that is heightening the importance of securing Scooters is the fact that they are now beginning to be used in more violent attacks, namely acid attacks! Police are now being given acid crime response kits in a bid to reduce the damage caused – but this is also an indicator of how they are become a more serious concern amongst law enforcement, with the number of attacks more than doubling between 2015 and 2016.
There has been a flurry of widely reported acid attacks in London in the past few months. The most notable and serious incident occurred on the 13th July, when two men on a moped attacked five different people using acid in a 90-minute period throughout East London. One victim was described as having ‘life-changing’ injuries as a result of this attack.
Acid attacks have also occurred without the use of Mopeds. In total, since the 19th June (2017) there have been 11 major acid attacks in London with at least 18 victims, including a heavily pregnant woman. Locations of crimes have included busy spaces such as nightclubs; which poses a serious risk of multiple victims’ due to the close proximity of people and recklessness in which this hideous act is carried out.
It is hard to imagine why anyone would be motivated to use such a damaging and corrosive substance in such a malicious way. Nevertheless, the Police must try to explore potential motives, and they have found what may be a link between acid attacks and organised crime. The Met Police’s Lead in this area, Det Supt Mike West has explained how many suspects in the recent acid attacks in the capital are registered on the Police’s 3000 person ‘Gangs Matrix’. Many suspects are young, between the mid-teens and early twenties, and therefore an initiative is also being proposed to educate students in schools about the dangers of acid and the damage it can cause someone.
Lastly, knife crime in London remains a highly debated issue in both politics and the media. The capital is considered to have a long-running issue with knife crime, and this compounded by recent statistics show that incidents are increasing in frequency.
The Met Police reported a 24% increase in recorded knife crime offences in the capital. This publication came shortly before a two-week period in May (2017) in which 11 people were fatally stabbed in just two weeks, adding to a situation that at first glance looks increasingly desperate.
Gangs are often referred to as the cause of the crime; both because gang rivalries lead to violence, and because gangs lead to the feelings amongst young people that they require a weapon as a form of defence or status symbol. However, a Police and Crime Committee Report in 2016 found that gang activity accounted for less than 5% of knife crime overall.
The Met Police launched Operation Sceptre in 2015 to combat knife crime. It seeks to target weapons suppliers as well as those who carry and use them. It is now in its sixth phase, which led to 399 weapons being confiscated. However, the recent crime statistics will lead to a renewed debate regarding the most effective way to deal with the problem of knife crime in the capital – Stop and Search?
London is considered one of the safest cities in the world, hence why it is such a highly prized target for terrorists. Whilst no city is safe from terrorism, the UK has the world’s best security and intelligence services actively monitoring known terror cells throughout the globe and more local threats. London is investing heavily in its armed police capability and reaction times are mere minutes. Many undercover police are patrolling the streets too. However, police numbers over the past 12 months have been slashed and moral within the Metropolitan police is at an all-time low due to increased workload and priority policing; namely the current terror threat. Whilst it’s unlikely, if you take sensible precautions, that you will become a victim of crime in London. You may wish to consider hiring close protection for added personal security.
If you would like to discuss your personal security concerns about London, please feel free to call Westminster Security on +44 207 123 4544 and we will gladly assist in providing you with the required close protection services.