Call for action over violent attacks on women

Ch Supt Penny Banham, right, out on patrol in Hampstead

Ch Supt Penny Banham, right, out on patrol in Hampstead - Credit: Archant

Terrified Hampstead residents have called for a public meeting with Camden’s Borough Commander Penny Banham to discuss policing in the area as attacks on lone women become increasingly violent.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who chairs the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Panel, made her plea after two attacks in the last month.

In the most violent, a mother told the Ham&High how she was strangled until she passed out by a masked attacker in front of her child and robbed of her jewellery in Belsize Park Gardens on January 26.

Just weeks later on February 16, a woman was pushed to the ground and robbed of her jewellery in New End. Police are appealing for witnesses to both attacks and have stepped up patrols in the area.

These are the latest in a string of similar assaults targetting lone women in Hampstead in the last year.

Last week Det Ch Supt Penny Banham was pictured on patrol in Hampstead in the wake of the latest attacks.

She accompanied an officer on a call in Daleham Gardens in Hampstead to reports of a person in distress. Police said the victim had minor injuries but was not seriously hurt.

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Solicitor Mrs Learmond-Criqui who has already raised £210,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to pay for more officers dedicated to Hampstead, said: “While it was great to see the Borough Commander in Hampstead, this won’t stop these violent robberies.

“We are calling for Ms Banham to attend a public meeting in Hampstead to hear our concerns. She has said she would not attend a public meeting with us in the past.”

Mrs Learmond Criqui added: “These latest attacks show why we need to increase the number of officers patrolling the area and we are continuing our crowdfunding campaign to try to raise the money. But our safer neighbourhood team also needs to be increased, not decreased by stealth by taking officers off the floating teams.”

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: “Ch Supt Penny Banham regularly patrols with her frontline officers in units such as emergency response and neighbourhoods, as do all borough commanders in the MPS.

On Monday 22 February she was out with the late turn response team, which was called to an incident in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead during their shift.

“In addition, the borough commander regularly makes herself available to local representatives and residents from across the whole borough of Camden at public meetings. The Neighbourhood Policing Sergeants and Inspectors regularly meet ward panels including Hampstead to discuss local issues.”