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Hampstead and Belsize Park residents tell police they want ‘more action’ after rise in moped crime

PUBLISHED: 13:41 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:14 15 September 2017

DCS Catherine Roper (far left standing) and Claire-Louise Leyland address the audience Picture: Nathan Louis

DCS Catherine Roper (far left standing) and Claire-Louise Leyland address the audience Picture: Nathan Louis

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Victims described their horror stories to the borough commander at St Stephens yesterday evening

St Stephens hosted a meeting between residents and DCS Catherine Roper last night (Thursday) Picture: Nathan LouisSt Stephens hosted a meeting between residents and DCS Catherine Roper last night (Thursday) Picture: Nathan Louis

A meeting to address the recent surge in moped related crime last night ended with residents calling out for less talk and more action.

Camden and Islington detective chief superintendent and borough commander Catherine Roper spoke to residents for two hours at St Stephens but many concerned audience members told her they felt the issue had not yet been taken seriously enough and pleaded for the police to be more responsive to incidents.

DCS Roper, who was accompanied by inspector Richard Berns and detective sergeant John Pascal Barbe, began by apologising to victims of robberies and muggings. DCS Roper then announced that Camden was currently seeing the most thefts in the capital.

Inspector Richard Berns introduces himself at the meeting, held at St Stephens Picture: Nathan LouisInspector Richard Berns introduces himself at the meeting, held at St Stephens Picture: Nathan Louis

“We are suffering from this rise. We believe it is boys, 13 year olds who are repeat offenders, who are out stealing these phones which can fetch around £100 when sold.”

She also said that she believed that repeat offenders were coming in from outside of the borough, a claim which was rejected by Antonia Orpen from the Washington pub in Belsize Park, who was also dismayed at the lack of action that she has seen from local police officers.

“I have seen perhaps a 10-15 percent response rate to six incidents near my pub. And even when I have told the police I have 11 CCTV cameras, not one officer came to look. This has gotten completely out of control now,” she said.

St Stephens Picture: Nathan LouisSt Stephens Picture: Nathan Louis

“People are being mugged in broad daylight. I have seen six men on three mopeds raid a Starbucks with a sledgehammer and still nothing was done.”

Richard Engel, a foreign news correspondent, says he has “never felt less safe walking the streets than in London.” Mr Engel has previously lived in Beirut, Jerusalem, and Turkey, and moved to Belsize Park five months ago.

One man said he had been approached on August 30 at around midday by a man who smashed his car window with a hammer as he was driving out of a parking space. The victim managed to flee. When he reported the incident, he was told that an officer would be in touch but no one contacted to investigate. Two weeks later, the man showed CCTV footage of the incident to a safe neighbourhood officer. When the officer watched the video, the victim said he was told “we have let you down, this is armed robbery.”

The borough commander quashed rumours that officers were not allowed to pursue offenders on mopeds. “We are able to pursue people on mopeds and those who take their crash helmets off but we need to have drivers with high training.”

DCS Roper says that Camden is the only borough in London that has a dedicated service to tackle moped crime and her team are trialing a number of crime prevention ideas including the possibility of using drones, and a DNA trial spray in which the police can spray an offender which sticks to the clothing for a particular length of time - sometimes up to six months - meaning detectives can then link them to the scene of a crime.

“There is a huge amount of productivity going on but clearly we are not doing enough to curb things. I can feel the anger in the room,” DCS Roper admitted.

One audience member responded by saying: “I don’t care how sorry you are, we just want to know what you are going to do.”

Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of the Camden Conservative party and organiser of the meeting, suggested to DCS Roper that a follow up session would be useful for residents and a time of shortly after Christmas was proposed.

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