By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Lockdown has led to 20,000 fewer reported crimes in Westminster than there were last year – the highest reduction rate across London.
Usually vibrant and bustling with tourists, office workers and residents, the capital’s entertainment centre became a near ghost town during lockdown.
The lights went out in some of the country’s biggest cinemas and clubs, while pubs and restaurants had to shut their doors.
But as footfall disappeared, so too did the opportunities for pickpockets and thieves to swipe laptops and mobile phones from unsuspecting revellers on a night out.
Last year, 15,000 incidents were reported to police in the West End alone, with St James’ ward having the second highest number of incidents.
Superintendent Mark Lawrence, from the Met’s Central West Basic Command Unit, which includes Westminster, said the drop proved “what we’ve always said is the issues are not residents, necessarily. It is people coming into the borough as victims and as perpetrators.”
Supt Lawrence added: “Crime is significantly down, with reductions in offences like robbery and knife crime.”
Lockdown saw a 58 per cent drop for reported robberies, and knife crime fell by 56 per cent.
However there were more concerns about domestic abuse, with “issues around job security and access to children and managing relationships” leading to calls to the police.
Westminster saw 159 Covid-related breaches – the second highest of any London borough.
Supt Lawrence said: “Initially at the start of the pandemic our view was we didn’t want to lose public confidence in policing so we didn’t want to be over zealous in the use of Covid legislation.”
But he said: “We think the public expects us to be more proactive in our use of legislation.
“Where people will not engage and where people will not comply then we will use our powers and arrest where we need to and use penalty notices where we need to.”
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