Street robbery falls as police target offenders

By Jack Foley

STREET robbery in London has been cut by a massive 31 per cent, according to the latest crime figures from Scotland Yard.

The impressive crackdown on offences means that street robbery in the capital has fallen to its lowest level since January 2001, with the number of offences down to 154 per day as opposed to 224 six months ago.

It means that Met Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens’s Operation Safer Streets blitz against muggers is producing results, and fully vindicates the decision to divert 250 officers from traffic duties onto anti-robbery squads targeting known troublespots.

Needless to say, Sir John is delighted and said that the ‘challenge’ identified following the publication of December’s figures, had been met.

He maintains that ‘the key’ was diverting traffic officers experienced at high-speed driving into street crime to improve the way the police responded immediately after a robbery.

The publication of weekly crime figures was also paying dividends, helping to identify hotspots and tackle them more pro-actively.

Street robbery had peaked at the end of last year, when figures revealed that there were an alarming 232 offences per day - a rise that was blamed, in part, on the re-deployment of officers to central London in the wake of the September 11 attacks in America.

But it prompted David Blunkett to issue an ultimatum - deliver improvements or face being replaced, as the government would step in.

The comments provoked a backlash from the police, but helped to secure an extra £13million a year for the Met to fund the anti-robbery drive, while the Prime Minister’s decision to take charge of a new street crime action group has helped.

Courts and schools have also been more pro-active in speeding up cases, while mobile phone firms have been working to make handsets less desirable targets for young offenders; many of whom are now faced with tougher jail terms, a clampdown on bail conditions, and fewer chances to commit crime because of tactical policing.

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