Police meet ICAG
- By London Cycling Campaign on at 11:00pm 21 October 2006
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Inspector Bruce Martin, who is responsible for suppression of "street robbery" in Islington, attended the October ICAG monthly meeting.
Inspector Bruce Martin runs a team of 28 officers, he has at his disposal 6 officers trained and equipped for cycle patrol. The purpose of his attendance was twofold:
- To bring us up to date on their fight against street crime
- To listen to our concerns and respond with advice
The fight against street crime
Q. What have they done so far?
A. These 6 officers were deployed during the summer around the Upper Street area and were extremely effective against "street robbery".
The same officers were also deployed in the some of the estates that are known for "street robbery", the result there was not so successful.
Apparently as soon as the estate gangs became aware that these cyclists were police they came under attack themselves.
A decisive incident was when scooter riders actually rode straight at them putting the officers in a risk situation beyond that which is considered acceptable by police health and safety guidelines. The officers were removed from estate patrol.
This may be reinstated when there are enough officers to send 4 instead of 2 at a time into estates on cycles. There are still cycle officers patrolling main roads 2 or 3 days per week.
Some of the known scooter thieves were targeted during the summer by home visits and where possible action was taken. Unfortunately many of the perpetrators are below the legal age for various types of prosecution.
Q. What are they currently doing?
A. Various methods have been tried to tackle scooter attacks, some more successful than others. Last year we heard of an operation using lightweight motorcycles, which was quite successful, however the department actually had to hire these bikes and could only continue until the money allocated to the project was gone. Due to incidents where litigation has taken place where chased scooter riders have been injured it is now policy not to pursue scooter thieves.
Techniques that have proved effective are where particular individuals and families have been identified as a main source of this crime the local authority can get involved. The worst offenders can be banned from certain areas and in the worst cases if living in authority housing can be evicted. Inspector Martin stated that he had personally visited the homes of many of the worst perpetrators and in some cases had the desired effect.
Where there are cases of gangs of kids attacking cyclists or throwing missiles all the police can do is send a car, the kids scarper, but return as soon as they have gone.
Q. What will they do in the future?
A. Currently the cycles used are £1200 each and were paid for by the council; the kit required is £500, comes out of kit fund and is not standard issue. This means that the numbers of officers able to patrol on cycles is limited, however many are keen to do so and Inspector Martin and his colleagues have been actively seeking ways to move forward with cycle patrols. The old cycle training course was a 1-day course, however a new course copied from a visit to a USA police cycle team is a 4-day course. It is difficult to take officers out of action to do this course but the next generation of officers at Hendon will be able to.
Concerns and advice
Q. The question that was asked in various ways is what exactly should cyclists do as victims of attacks, robbery or attempts at either.
A. Inspector Martin advised us that if we are the victims of an attack and there is a strong chance that the perpetrators could be caught by immediate police action, that we should ring 999.
If this is not feasible then the incident should be reported to the police at the earliest opportunity either by ringing the Islington Police Station on:
T: 020 7704 1212
It is the Community Contact Officer for the area in which the incident took place that needs to know so that the information can be used to build up a picture of what is happening in the area.
Other advice is what should be common sense.
- Try and ride in pairs at night
- Avoid known hot spots
- Do not keep valuables in detachable panniers
The police are low on resources and the have to make difficult decisions.
“Attacks and robberies on cyclists” are recorded as “attacks” and “robberies”.
We thank Inspector Martin for his attendance and advice.