Search

It’s quiet and affluent: that’s why robbers love Hampstead

08:00 19 June 2014

Ch Supt Ben-Julian "BJ" Harrington. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

Ch Supt Ben-Julian "BJ" Harrington. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Camden’s most senior police officer has insisted that violent crime is not on the rise in Hampstead, despite a recent spate of violent moped robberies and school-run muggings.

Borough commander Ch Supt Ben-Julian “BJ” Harrington admitted there had been a series of “disturbing” robberies in the last month but that officers have seen a continuing reduction in violent crime in Hampstead and across the borough.

His comments have been met with disbelief from community activist Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who has started a petition to bring a police base back to Hampstead in response to the crimes.

Speaking on Friday, Ch Supt Harrington said: “We are increasing patrols in Hampstead not only as a result of this ongoing issue around burglaries but because it’s been there for years, as it’s an affluent area with quiet streets.

“For victims it has been hugely scary and it’s massively important that we catch the people involved.”

Nearly 1,000 people have signed the online petition calling for better resources for the Metropolitan Police Service to fight crime in Hampstead, including a physical base to replace the former Hampstead Police Station in Rosslyn Hill.

It follows a run of at least seven moped robberies spreading from Hampstead Garden Suburb to Hampstead, linked to a notorious gang of ram-raiders.

Many of the petition’s signatories include concerned parents and headteachers frightened that criminals are targeting mums and dads outside schools.

Police have confirmed two muggings involving parents outside schools but the community has supplied information about several more.

Despite this, Ch Supt Harrington said criminals are not targeting parents on the school-run in Hampstead.

He added that a new police base in Hampstead would not prevent these crimes from happening.

“It is opportunistic: they are clearly targeting people with expensive stuff because that’s what they want to steal,” he said.

“It’s as likely to be me in Hampstead because I have an expensive watch as a parent or mother with their child in a car outside a school.

He continued: “The reality is I can’t put a police cop on every street corner in Hampstead 24 hours a day.

“I understand that having a police base is a reassuring presence but what we need to do is continue to make sure that cops are out on patrol and not stuck in a building. It’s not necessary.”

Ms Learmond-Criqui, chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Panel, disagreed “vehemently” with the borough commander about the need for a physical police base in Hampstead.

“Criminals have looked at the houses opposite the police station and burgled them,” she said. “It’s two fingers up to the police.

“Until about a year ago, we didn’t have this frequency of violent crime. That’s changed since the police station closed.

“The borough commander talks pretty words but [the reduction in crime] has not been the residents’ experience on the ground.”

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder