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Parents ‘living in fear’ of violent criminals targeting school run in Hampstead

Jessica Learmond-Criqui and other Hampstead residents and families gathered outside the disused police station in a show of anger at rising crime on Tuesday. Picture: Nigel Sutton Jessica Learmond-Criqui and other Hampstead residents and families gathered outside the disused police station in a show of anger at rising crime on Tuesday. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, June 12, 2014
6:00 AM

Violent criminals are feared to be targeting parents on the school run – prompting a rapid groundswell of support for a new campaign to bring police back to NW3.

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More than 500 people have backed fresh calls for a new base in Hampstead, in response to a spate of violent robberies.

They have all signed an online petition launched this week after it emerged that the former Hampstead Police Station in Rosslyn Hill has been sold to the Department for Education and is set to become a free school – potentially ending hopes of restoring officers to the site.

Melissa Remus Elliot, headteacher for the past 21 years at Heathside Preparatory School in Heath Street, is one of the signatories.

She believes parents are a “soft target” now that officers are no longer based in the area.

She said: “I know of several people being attacked – all mothers dropping off children. This is horrifying and not indicative of a civilised society. Children are in danger. “Please do not abandon us. Bring back our police force!”

The Ham&High reported last week that PR worker Jo Kanter was mugged in front of her three-year-old daughter as she collected her from Hampstead Hill School in Rosslyn Hill.

Floods of comments on the online petition reveal a growing sense of alarm, much of it from parents fearing their families are no longer safe on the school run.

One said they feel “under threat” while walking their child to school, another spoke of “living in fear”, while mother-of-two Sophie Collier wrote: “There have been several reports of mums being mugged in broad daylight. This must not continue.”

The petition comes as police hunt a notorious gang of moped raiders linked to at least seven robberies, including one on a family with two young children.

On Sunday the gang struck again in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, stealing a £24,000 watch after brandishing a hammer and a knife at a 26-year-old man.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, the chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, is behind the petition.

She wrote: “We are now hearing on a daily basis of violent muggings during daylight of mothers outside schools, moped ram raids of houses, hammer attacks on residents driving into their drives, violent robberies and burglaries.

“If we do not come together to make our voices heard, we are likely to endure increasing crime in frequency and violence.”

Her main demand is for “a physical base in Hampstead to house our local police officers”. She also criticises the new policing model brought in last year, which sees fewer officers dedicated to Hampstead.

A spokesman for Camden Police said officers would meet with Ms Learmond-Criqui to discuss the issues raised.

The petition can be found at bit.ly/1u4HkeG.

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