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Our survey says that crime is going down'

PUBLISHED: 15:43 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010

CRIME is falling both in Hampstead and across Camden, according to police chiefs, but 999 response times need to be better. March 31 saw the end of the police performance year, and results are soon to be released as part of the British Crime

Ed Thomas

CRIME is falling both in Hampstead and across Camden, according to police chiefs, but 999 response times need to be better.

March 31 saw the end of the police performance year, and results are soon to be released as part of the British Crime Survey.

The survey monitors 10 key crime areas, including robbery, assault, burglary and theft, and reported crimes are expected to be 21 per cent down this year for the borough.

Chief Superintendent Dominic Clout, commander of Camden's police, said this corresponds to 4,500 fewer reported crimes, which ranks the borough as the best performing in the capital.

"The full results will not be out until May, but it looks like Camden is going to record the biggest fall in the British Crime Survey in London," he said.

"That's what it looks like, and I am willing to put money on it. I think that is a significant achievement and I put that down to close partnership work, close community work through the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and all the work of the officers and staff in Camden.

"I want to make sure we continue to make reductions in crime."

The police chief singled out officers in Camden Town for particular praise, after a 30 per cent reduction in street robbery and 48 per cent drop in pickpocketing.

But he said one area for improvement is emergency response times.

"I know our response to 999 calls hasn't been as good as it should be," he said. "We need to improve the process by which we handle the calls from the public."

The future of Hampstead and Kentish Town police stations is currently under review, meaning they could shut and make way for a centralised response base to serve the whole of Camden. The move is feared to impact negatively on 999 response times.

But at the moment, crime levels in Hampstead Town are falling. Figures were released at last week's Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods Panel meeting upstairs in the "not fit for purpose" police station.

In the three months between December 2007 and February 2008, total crime was down 32 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

Burglary has halved from 60 offences to 29, and the number of recorded thefts has dropped from 180 offences to 130. Only criminal damage has gone up, from 17 to 24 offences over the year.

"Overall the crime figures are down, which is good news for everyone," said Sergeant Steve Pepper.

"In January there was a spate of thefts from motor vehicles, where thieves were bypassing cars' electronic locking devices.

"They would wait down the street while you think you are locking your car door, but in effect the door would be left open.

"But that has not been happening again since and the statistics have come down."

Hampstead police will now be focusing on stopping teenage gangs flooding the village on Friday afternoons and evenings as the weather improves, to stop schoolchildren being picked on.

ed.thomas@hamhigh.co.uk

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