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Police urge Hampstead Heath visitors to take care after 8 robberies in a fortnight

PUBLISHED: 15:49 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:49 01 June 2020

Hampstead Heath in the spring of 2020. Picture: André Langlois

Hampstead Heath in the spring of 2020. Picture: André Langlois

Archant

Local police are warning Hampstead Heath visitors to take care, particularly in secluded areas and after dark, after dealing with eight robberies in the past fortnight as lockdown eases on the Heath.

Three individuals alleged to have been involved in these incidents have been arrested. Two boys have been charged with offences relating to possession of a knife or bladed article.

Sgt John Hounsell, ward sergeant for Hampstead Town and Highgate, made a statement saying police were aware of “concerns and fears” over a recent increase in robbery, and wanted to “hopefully allay concerns and also outline our policing response”.

Sgt Hounsell said: “There have been eight robbery offences reported in the last two weeks in, and immediately close to Hampstead Heath. The victims are nearly exclusively teenagers. Physical violence was used in one of the offences, and a knife was used in one other. The rest involved threats and intimidation.”

He said the police were working reactively to investigate the robberies and proactively to show a “visible response” to the issue.

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The officer added: “We want officers to be seen in key areas to deter would-be thieves. Suspicious individuals have, and will be challenged.”

The two young men charged are both under 18 and are set to appear in court later in June.

The third person arrested was detained on suspicion of handling stolen goods and robbery, he has not been charged with an offence at this stage.

Sgt Hounsell also moved to urge caution, saying: “We would advise young people to avoid the more secluded areas of Hampstead Heath – especially in the later hours. We also advise people not to challenge or antagonize thieves who demand property as this could provoke violence.

“Try and contact police as soon as possible and remember exactly where you were on the Heath when the incident happened so we know where to look for the offenders.”

In Autumn 2019 the local police used “covert” means to deter would-be muggers on the Heath after 21 robberies took place during August and September.

Have you noticed an increase in crime on the Heath, or been a victim yourself? Contact Sam on sam.volpe@Archant.co.uk or call 07785616237.


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