20 attacks in just 3 months along towpath
PUBLISHED: 11:21 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 07 September 2010
WOMEN are being warned to steer clear of an idyllic towpath after dark as violent robbers have struck 20 times in just three months. The attacks - some involving knives - happened along the Lisson Green to Westbourne Park stretch of Regent s Canal. An 18-
WOMEN are being warned to steer clear of an idyllic towpath after dark as violent robbers have struck 20 times in just three months.
The attacks - some involving knives - happened along the Lisson Green to Westbourne Park stretch of Regent's Canal.
An 18-year-old man was arrested last week and charged with five counts of robbery along the path but police believe more attackers are at large and are urging people to take care.
DI Sean Oxley, head of Westminster robbery squad, said: "This arrest was a major dent in the problems around the towpath. But the path still tends to attract problems because it is quite tucked away even though it is a public place.
"Anyone using that route is quite isolated and this is especially true with the dark evenings drawing in.
"So although we've had a success people need to be vigilant when they walk in that area."
Marco Torquati, chairman of Church Street CivicWatch group which works to reduce crime around Lisson Green, often uses the towpath to cycle home.
"Cyclists and pedestrians should not go along the path when it's dark and they should make sure they are with someone else if possible," he advised. "But also we need to ensure there is good lighting along the path."
He added: "I'm really pleased with the police operation but I hope it continues for a long time because if the towpath gets a reputation for crime then it won't do much for neighbourhood regeneration."
Pat Green, London operations manger for Victim Support, also called for more high visibility policing around the Regent's Canal area.
Westminster Council's boss for community, protection, Cllr Daniel Astaire, has now promised that efforts would be stepped up to improve safety around the canal.
"Although crime remains low in Westminster one incident is one too many and we will not be complacent," he said. "Our city guardians will be increasing patrols along the towpath to act as a reassuring presence for the public and we will carry out a lighting audit to make sure the area is well lit and safe."
DI Oxley also assured residents that the crime hotspot will continue to benefit from extra police activity.