BY YANN TEAR
Knife crimes were massively on the increase in Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham last year – bucking an overall trend in the capital, which saw reported incidents more or less at last year’s levels.
The statistics released this week by the Met are particularly alarming in Hammersmith & Fulham, with an 84 per cent rise in cases, from 236 in 2017-18 to 434 in 2018-19.
In central London, there was a hike of about 52 per cent in knife crimes – the numbers rising from 650 to 985. And 18 per cent more of those cases resulted in injury. Kensington & Chelsea also experienced an increase in knife crime – a 25 per cent spike (262 to 328).
Gun crimes were down in Westminster, but rose by nearly 40 per cent in Hammersmith & Fulham – from 34 cases to 47 in the year just gone (April 2018-March 2019).
In Kensington, they rose from 34 to 40. Knife crimes leading to injury rose by 20 per cent in Hammersmith (from 87 to 104), while two other specific hate crimes increased markedly in the borough: transgender hate incidents rising from seven to 19 and anti-Semitic crime going up from seven to 12 – though these were more in-line with the figures for the whole of London.
Another headline was a big increase in reported mobile phone robberies – from 236 to 434, representing a near 70 per cent hike.
In Westminster, mobile phone thefts were also on the march – 1,139 incidents representing a rise of more than 30 per cent.
Burglaries and overall drug-related offences broadly matched the levels of the previous year in Hammersmith & Fulham, although drug trafficking rose, while possession fell. But robberies and sexual offences showed significant rises in the borough.
The number of reported rapes and sexual assaults increased from 179 to 331, while street robberies and robberies in shops and other business premises rose from 579 to 836 incidents.
In Westminster, nearly 8,000 more thefts were reported than in the previous year – with some 36,295 logged reports detailing bike thefts, pick-pocketing, shoplifting or the snatching of unattended bags.
The Met said that while overall there have been rises in crime throughout the capital, the rate of increase has significantly slowed since last year.
There has also been progress made in tackling and reducing violent crime. In the past 12 months there were 122 homicides, compared with 163 in the previous 12 months – nine of which were as a result of the terror attacks that occurred at London Bridge and Finsbury Park in 2017.
Hammersmith & Fulham recorded two, compared to four the previous year, with two murders in Kensington & Chelsea, one less than in 2017-18. In Westminster, it dropped from seven to four. Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said: “Tackling violent crime and knife crime on the streets of London has been, and remains, the top priority for the Met.
“We are working tirelessly – day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice, take weapons off the street, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.
As a result, there have been reductions in homicide and stabbings – horrific crimes that impact most on people’s lives. “I am also encouraged that, despite the rises in many other crimes, including robbery, burglary and theft, the increases have not been as high as the previous year. We have been working hard to keep crime levels as low as possible.
“However, we are not under any illusion about the challenges and we certainly aren’t complacent. We continue to work under pressures that stretch our resources; there are still too many lives tragically and needlessly lost; and too many people severely injured.
“Operations are planned for coming weeks and months to ensure the momentum against violence continues. We are also working on plans which will both help the public protect themselves from many crimes and put greater pressure on those who commit them.”
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