Coronavirus has seen crime fall, but police still targeting muggers on the Heath, says local inspector

Highgate, as seen from Hampstead Heath on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Picture: André Langlois

Highgate, as seen from Hampstead Heath on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Picture: André Langlois - Credit: Archant

Lockdown has seen crime fall in north London, but officers are still targeting muggers on the Heath and working hard to keep violent crime to a minimum.

Speaking to the Ham&High the day after a shooting in Gospel Oak, acting Inspector Dave Hodges explained lockdown had “clearly been an unusual time for all of us”.

Insp Hodges, who took over responsibility for half of the Camden’s neighbourhood policing officers last autumn when the borough was given extra resources after a brutal September week which saw three young people killed, said a huge amount of work had limited violent crime in the area since then.

He said: “We had three in a week then nothing much for months afterwards – that’s done off the back of lots of really focused police work.”

Monday night’s shooting aside, Insp Hodges said gang crime had also fallen during lockdown, but it clearly hadn’t disappeared.

He said: “There are definitely less people out and about, but we are still seeing your drug dealers and similar – if anything it’s a bit easier to spot them.”

Insp Hodges added that officers were aware of “a handful” of mugging incidents on the Heath, particularly in the area close to the Parliament Hill running track.

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He added: “We have been made aware that a handful of incidents have occurred on the Heath. It was an issue last summer too – the sun comes out and and you get people out and about more and this happens.

“Local officers are aware of it and targeting the local area. There was an arrest yesterday. Many are obviously committed on bikes. This was a great arrest that shows we are still out doing our jobs.”

As for policing the lockdown, Insp Hodges, who felt the police had been treated unfairly by the media during the pandemic, added that the public was, by and large, dealing with the restrictions well. “These are clearly unusual times for all of us. The vast majority of people have been dealing with it incredibly well,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of press on people doing what they shouldn’t be, but most people are sticking to the rules. Crime has generally dropped and it’s the same here, but we’re still going about our business as usual, as much as we can.”