Robbery rates in London ‘too high’ admits Khan

Robbery in London has risen 57% since the mayor took office in 2016, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)
Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)

Sadiq Khan has admitted that the amount of robberies in London is “too high”, as he launched a new Robbery Reduction Partnership to tackle the issue.

The partnership, which held its first meeting on Monday, brings together the Metropolitan Police, the Safer Business Network and the mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit, among other groups.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows that robbery in London has risen 57% since Khan took office in 2016.

While 21,604 offences were recorded in the capital in the period from April 2015 to March 2016, the figure stood at 33,951 over the twelve months of 2023.

The increase across the whole of England and Wales between the same two periods was slightly higher however, at 59%.

Khan, who on Tuesday joined police officers on a patrol through Covent Garden, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he wanted to be “tough” on the “complex causes of crime” but also on crime itself.

“That means not just revitalised neighbourhood teams [of police officers]… but also speaking to and listening to those who have got skin in the game,” he said.

“That means businesses, that means CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], youth offending teams, Transport for London, councils, City of London Police, and many others to see what we can do working together to reduce robbery.

“Robbery is too high – it’s going up across the country, it’s gone up in London. We know a large number of these robberies are of mobile phones, [stolen by] snatching. We saw last year real progress made in relation to those luxury watches [being stolen].

“So this [work] is aiming to do two things – one is to make people feel safer, and secondly it’s making sure people are safer.”

The Met said in January that two recent operations in and around Westminster had led to marked decreases in watch robberies.

The two operations – carried out in late 2022 and 2023 across South Kensington, Chelsea, Soho and Mayfair – saw undercover officers deployed as potential targets wearing expensive watch brands. Criminals who tried robbing the watches in the street were then apprehended by other undercover officers nearby.

In a speech in March, Khan said the rising cost of living had helped to fuel a rise in certain forms of ‘acquisitive’ crime, like shoplifting, burglary and theft.

In October last year, the mayor and Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley convened a meeting with world-leading mobile phone companies to ask them to commit to “designing out” mobile phone robbery.

Khan argued that it should be possible to reduce the incentive for stealing phones by improving the devices’ security measures – making them harder to unlock and sell on.

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