We have again seen violent attacks on a store in Oxford Street, with a gang of moped riders using machetes and other weapons to threaten and intimidate staff and passers by whilst they tried to enter the store to ransack display cases and steal the contents.
This is not the first. Property worth a huge amount has been stolen in other raids this year, and gangs involved are becoming more open and brazen. Over the boat race weekend a gang, in broad daylight, tried to saw off a camera the BBC had put into place on a bridge, threatening people who tried to intervene. Footage on the internet shows owners of mopeds filming gangs trying to steal them, who then damage cars as they leave frustrated but showing no fear from the fact that they are being filmed. Our murder rate is of a concern, as is the frequent carriage of knives and other weapons. Indeed, and we have said it before, there is a new feral element present who are apart from society, wholly without scruple and prepared to do anything to take something.
Fault for this can be ascribed widely. No doubt service cuts have had an impact, and then at the critical end enforcement efforts have of necessity been diluted as the police cope with fewer resources and rising demand from online crime, child sexual exploitation, terrorism, increased expectations and historic enquiries. Whilst it is critical to understand the causes in order to deliver longer term solutions and avoid the next generation falling into the same pit, it is also essential to put some tactical interventions into place now to keep people safe, protect London and its reputation and stem the flow of such violent incidents.
At a time when we need to preserve our international standing, keep London open for business and encourage tourists, our reputation is being rubbished through viral videos showing gangs roaming around on stolen mopeds, committing crime at will and subjecting people to horrendous violence.
The tactical solution must include new approaches to maximise the sharing of intelligence between private companies and the police, better communication that supports joint responses and better hard solutions in certain places to restrict movement of people on mopeds. Now is the time for a tactical task force to assemble, comprising people who can help bring solutions forward to tackle this insidious problem. Now is the time for effective partnership to maximise the opportunity to counter this flow while we have a chance.
We are pleased to have meetings in place with very senior officers in the Metropolitan Police, where we hope we can strengthen and deepen our working relationship to help make London a safer place. We are also seeking a similar meeting with the Mayor of London, because we believe we can help London and work more effectively in partnership.
And now is the time to remember – what happens in the capital spreads readily, so the rest of the UK needs to prepare now.