Belsize Park dubbed the new Bronx after crime wave

Zakaria Fellah after the unprovoked attack

Zakaria Fellah after the unprovoked attack - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park has been branded the new “Bronx” after a spate of violent street attacks.

The Bronx Arthur Avenue

The Bronx Arthur Avenue - Credit: Archant

Residents fear the area is becoming lawless with criminals taking advantage of cuts to local policing.

In an incident last Tuesday, a middle-aged man was punched in the face and had his nose smashed by a thief trying to steal his bicycle in Belsize Terrace.

A police spokesman said: “The victim spotted someone fiddling around with his locked bike. He went to stop him and the suspect punched him in the face and broke his nose, before running off.”

Hours later on the same day a woman was violently mugged in nearby Lyndhurst Gardens.

Belsize Village

Belsize Village - Credit: Archant

As reported in the Ham & High the female, in her mid-30s, was grabbed around the neck by a man who pushed her to the ground while his male accomplice pulled a ring off her finger. Both men ran off after the incident.

Neighbour Jon Russell, a member of Belsize neighbourhood watch, came to her help after hearing her screams. “She was incredibly distressed and screamed for some time,” he said.

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He claims she was left hiding in fear in her apartment as police took up to an hour to arrive - a claim which they deny.

Officers say their log shows they arrived within 15 minutes.

These latest attacks follow a shocking incident on April 2, when a Canadian tourist was left unconscious and drenched in his own blood after being headbutted in the face in Lancaster Grove, in Belsize Park. Former UN diplomat Zakaria Fellah, 49, who lives in New York, needed eight stitches and says he is now facing a £3,000 dental bill to fix his cracked front tooth and bone.

Mr Fellah, who is staying with a diplomat friend in Belsize Park, was alarmed to hear of the recent attacks. “This neighbourhood is getting more insecure every day. It’s becoming like the Bronx,” he said.

He says he feels safer in New York, where he has lived for 26 years .

Author Barbara Bisco, of Belsize Crescent, a native New Yorker, said: “New York has certainly become safer than London now due to its zero tolerance crackdown on crime and London is becoming less safe as the police are, shall we say, more lax and cuts have had an effect.”

Belsize Neighbourhood Watch coordinator Roger Montgomery said: “The police here are very stretched. There just aren’t enough of them for these kinds of crime.’’

His neighbourhood watch colleague Jon Russell added:

Former Hampstead councillor Chris Knight said: “Criminals know Belsize has rich pickings and think they can get away with it.”