Hampstead Heath muggings: Police plan ‘covert operations’ as victims tell of trauma

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Hampstead police are looking to conduct “covert operations” on Hampstead Heath after 21 robberies were reported during August and September.

A number of victims have come forward to tell how of attacks on the Heath - with the area around Parliament Hill a particular hot spot.

In response, local police told this newspaper they had made policing the Heath a priority.

Sgt Joe Johnson, who is responsible for ward policing in Hampstead, said: "We have noticed an increase in robberies occurring across Hampstead Heath, six offences in August and 15 in September. To combat this, we have defaulted all of our proactive units to these areas and are looking to conduct several covert operations in the area."

Sgt Johnson added officers had "made several arrests so far with enquiries ongoing".

One of the men to have been mugged on the Heath said he was attacked while walking back from a work party in Kentish Town.

He said was forced to hand over his belongings to a group of young men at the bottom of Parliament Hill.

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"I usually travel by bike, but that day it was a bit late and my lights weren't charged. I didn't want to take risks so I walked," the man said.

He added he saw a group of teenagers but thought everything was normal and continued walking. Then they shouting started and two men approached him. "They asked me if I wanted any weed," he said. "I said no, and that's when they got aggressive. I thought I would give them whatever they wanted. As soon as I stopped, they said 'give me your watch'.

"Looking back, I was traumatised. My wife and baby were in Greece. I didn't know how to get in touch with them."

Another man, who didn't want to be named, said he was running on the Heath when he was attacked by three men who stole a £2,500 watch from him. "There was no one around and they were aggressive, he said. "The Heath is a haven for me but now I'll think twice."

Sgt Johnson continued; "We are also working closely with Hampstead Heath constabulary to assist us in tackling this increase to prevent it from rising further.

"We encourage the public to call us to any suspicious behaviour as it may help prevent further offences."