Parents hire guards to protect their children
Ben McPartland PRIVATE security guards are escorting teenage girls to their homes to protect them from being mugged or attacked. The head of a security firm which operates in parts of Hampstead told the Ham&High this week that his staff have been instruct
PRIVATE security guards are escorting teenage girls to their homes to protect them from being mugged or attacked.
The head of a security firm which operates in parts of Hampstead told the Ham&High this week that his staff have been instructed to meet the girls when they get off buses and walk them home.
Hocroft Trading and Security carry out the task as part of their general 'meet and greet' service which is normally used by women who feel vulnerable when returning home alone. Now those mothers are asking for the service to be provided for their daughters, especially during term time.
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Abi Mohamed who runs Hocroft said: "They just feel it is better to be safe than sorry. Three 15-year-old girls have started calling every single day. One of them thought someone was following her, another one said her friend had been attacked and she was paranoid that it would happen to her.
"As soon as they come off the bus we meet them and we will see them home safely. Women do feel much safer with us there. Our role is to act as a deterrent.
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"The police cannot be everywhere at the same time and they cannot meet everyone on their way home."
Paul Williams, who runs London Community Services, a private security firm in Hampstead Garden Suburb, has also been asked to provide protection for youngsters. His staff is made up of former Gurkhas.
He said: "It is very hard to physically provide that service to every family in the Suburb because I would need a staff of around 100. But if a situation arises it is something we have handled in the past."
As well as the new demands to protect teenagers, the firms say the number of women signing up for the meet and greet service has risen dramatically in recent weeks in the wake of a number of high-profile court cases.
Mr Mohamed said his company are now receiving up to 25 to 30 calls a day in response to a series of strangulation robberies on lone women in the area.
In June, brothers Daniel and Matthew Mykoo were convicted of a total of 20 robberies on women between March and June last year. Last week, two other men were sentenced to 10 years in jail for three similar muggings in Hampstead and St John's Wood.
The police told the Ham&High this week that a new team of robbers targeting lone wealthy women has become active over the summer.
On August 3 they pounced on a woman when she returned to her home in Milton Close, Hampstead Garden Suburb, after being followed home from a restaurant in Belsize Park. Detectives believe the same men attacked three other women in central and west London. One victim had her fingers broken by attackers determined to steal her valuable rings.
Many victims of the Mykoo brothers, who included Hampstead-based fashion mogul Nicole Farhi, have also signed up for private security.
Det Con Reg Pickering, from Barnet CID, is not surprised at parents using private security for their children.
He said: "They are providing a service and it reassures people that someone is going to be at their door when they return home. The companies are totally independent and we never really have anything to do with them. It is all done by word of mouth among various victims.
"The companies seem to hear about these robberies and then they go and canvas for business.