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Advice from CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111
Recent months have seen an increase in these crimes locally, with a sharp escalation of phone snatches by men on mopeds and, more distressingly, gangs of six or so youths robbing single pedestrians, mainly schoolchildren, sometimes violently. The main areas for the latter seem to be Pauntley Street, Harberton Road, Whitehall Park and Gladsmuir Road, though the whole of the WHPARA area has been affected, with a robbery at knifepoint recently on Hornsey Lane. Police believe that they know the suspects, who wear balaclavas and hoodies, but are unable to do anything unless the villains are caught in the act.
Local Councillor David Poyser posted the following on our Facebook group:
“The recent BBC documentary ‘Inside Britain’s Moped Crime Gangs’ prominently featured an Islington based young man, boasting about the ease with which he makes large sums of money from moped enabled theft. It’s clear that many people who live and work here are understandably concerned about this issue.
Far from being a relatively harmless offence as the perpetrators may believe, moped enabled theft is both violent and dangerous. As well as the immediate impact on the victims, by riding on pavements often at high speeds, the perpetrators risk harming other members of the public including small children.
It’s clear that in the community justifiable fears about this type of crime have bled into wider concerns about young people who are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. Islington Councillors recognise the seriousness of moped enabled theft and are taking practical steps to deter young people from committing these offences in the future.
Here are a few key points on the action the police and the council are taking to address these serious issues:
Inspector Steven Murfin, Islington PolicePublic Service, posted this on NextDoor regarding crime issues in the Archway area:
“This note is an update from Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police Service on progress made since the public meeting to discuss recent snatch thefts and violent robberies in Junction and St George’s wards of north Islington which was held on 29 November 2017 in Hocking Hall near Whittington Park, with well over a hundred members of the local community in attendance.
The main ringleader of the group identified as responsible for perpetrating this spate of crimes in the area was arrested shortly after the public meeting and issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order which included conditions excluding him from areas of previous offending and preventing him from associating with other individuals of concern. The individual then reoffended and received a further sentence, comprising a 12-month referral order, meaning he is subject to closer supervision. Unfortunately, he has recently been arrested again and a charging decision is awaited. Another of the main suspects involved in snatch thefts in the area was arrested outside Islington and remanded in custody. These arrests have delivered some reductions in crime in the area.
A community weapon sweep took place in Whittington Park on Sunday 11 February 2018 which was led by police and attended by local residents, ward councillors, the council’s community safety team and Parkguard, the council’s contractor who works alongside the council in addressing anti-social behavior (ASB). No weapons were recovered. Weapon sweeps are routinely carried out in both Whittington Park and Tufnell Park by the police and Parkguard and we are looking to extend community involvement by inviting local residents and partners to participate more often. We hope to start this in Tufnell Park and will be confirming a date shortly.
We held an inaugural Neighbourhood Watch meeting in Yerbury Road in February 2018 for Junction ward and St George’s ward residents. There was a good level of interest – around thirty local residents attended and two of them volunteered as coordinators for the Neighbourhood Watch. The police will be supporting the development of Neighbourhood Watch and are promoting it across the borough.
The MPS have introduced significant additional resources into the area through a new specialist Met-wide initiative called Operation Gondala, and the Met’s Territorial Support Group have been patrolling the area in addition to the local policing teams.
Wide-ranging enforcement tactics are being used against individual perpetrators where appropriate. This includes exploring housing, tax, benefits and other angles in an attempt to disrupt the activity of those involved.
We are employing short-lived Dispersal Zones in the area, which local officers can enforce in an attempt to prevent crime and ASB.
The council’s Licensing Team are speaking to Starbucks and McDonald’s where some members of the group in question are congregating.
The council’s Head of Youth and Community Services met with Head teacher of Acland Burghley School and offered support to the school in terms of relevant specialist services. The school have taken up the offer and are reporting fewer issues. The Safer Schools police officers are continuing to work with all schools linked to the area to promote safety awareness to pupils.
The council’s Community Safety Team have been monitoring the action plan put in place for the area. New perpetrators may now be involved and they are being investigated.
Junction Ward is featuring as the main hotspot for offending, concentrated around Archway tube station. The local police team have been focusing on crime prevention work in the area, including street briefings for the public and local businesses. A mobile phone marking event was carried out on 17 January 2018 and a dot-matrix board has been installed temporarily at Archway to encourage people to be extra cautious with their possessions. This has caused mixed reviews and we are looking at other ways to reduce crime.
Incidents and anti-social gatherings in Whittington Park have reduced. A meeting to re-establish the Friends of Whittington Park took place on 6 February 2018. The council’s Greenspace Team are holding an event in Whittington Park on 14 April 2018 to launch Islington in Bloom and the Friends group have been invited to use this event to promote themselves and gather further interest.
Details of the quarterly police ward panel meetings for Junction and St George’s wards were circulated following the public meeting on 29 November 2017 and local residents are encouraged to come along to them. Please continue to report crimes by calling 999 in cases of emergency or 101 for non-emergencies.
The local Neighbourhood Police Teams in Junction and St George’s wards can be contacted respectively at: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
The council’s antisocial behaviour team can be contacted via the ASB line on 020 7527 7272 or at www.islington.gov.uk/policing-safety/report/antisocial
Reports can also be made to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at https://crimestoppers-uk.org
I accept that this is not going to reassure everyone but please be aware that we are doing what we can to make this area safer.
Islington youth crime prevention services and interventions
Work in schools
- We have increased our partnership with schools to ensure we are reaching vulnerable young people in schools and are working with siblings to prevent further escalation of risks and needs.
- The new Youth Violence Prevention Toolkit for use in schools was shared with every school (primary and secondary) in the borough in December 2017. This Spring we are meeting with the designated safeguarding lead in every school to discuss issues or concerns around youth violence and to offer support and information about our Open for All, targeted and specialist youth services.
- A named Safer School Police Officer is provided for the twelve secondary schools in the borough and one police officer is provided for colleges. In addition, there are four police officers for universities and four dedicated police officers covering 46 primary schools. Safer Schools Police Officers give presentations to students on topics such as drugs, knife crime, cyber bullying, online safety, CSE (child sexual exploitation), and mobile phone theft, and also help to staff school gates at the end of each school day to reassure students as they leave the premises.
- The Ben Kinsella Trust, the St Giles Trust SOS Plus Programme and Victim Support are working with Islington schools to provide presentations to pupils on topics including knife crime prevention and keeping safe.
Open for All youth work offer
- Islington has increased and widened its youth offer so that it is as accessible to all and extended the weekend and adventure play offer, leading to increased participation.
- All children and young people aged 6 and upwards (parents in the case of younger children) identified as being vulnerable due to the offending of a family member will be personally contacted with a curated offer of Open for All adventure play or youth services aligned to their geographical location and, where information is available, their interests.
Siblings of prolific young offenders
- Siblings will be identified through the enhanced tracking and monitoring of our most prolific offenders currently open to Targeted Youth Support (TYS), Youth Offending Service (YOS) and the Integrated Gangs Team (IGT) and offered targeted interventions and support at the earliest opportunity. YOS plans will include younger siblings at risk and plans for younger siblings incorporated as part of the Asset Plus assessment for the YOS cohort and the siblings will be prioritised for mentoring schemes and key working through Chance UK and Safer London.
Mentoring young people at risk
- Chance UK: age 5 – 11 years
Provide mentoring for 50 Islington children per year who are aged 5-11 and have behavioural difficulties. The children are engaged in a one year mentoring programme, and are placed with volunteer adult mentors, who meet with them weekly for 2-4 hours and offer a solution-focused, goal-oriented programme to improve behaviour and raise self-esteem.
- Safer London: age 11 – 17 years
Provide mentoring to 30+ young people who have been identified as being at risk of involvement in gangs / group offending and/or involved in carrying out personal robbery/snatch offences. The service approach is focused on engaging in positive activities, developing life skills and sustaining engagement in education and training.
St Giles Trust key working
- One-to-one intensive support for 60+ 10-18 year olds per year, delivered by workers from St Giles Trust who utilise their experiences as a way of connecting with young people both on the fringes of and already entrenched in gang activity and offending.
Mandatory offer YOS to TYS
- A new exit plan process will ensure that we maximise the offer for young people and their families to access appropriate support beyond their statutory involvement with the YOS in order to help prevent further reoffending and improve their outcomes. In order to improve the take-up of a step-down offer we are introducing this at a much earlier stage - at least three months prior to the end of an order. This mandatory offer will include access to a TYS worker, and iWork/employment coach, and other voluntary agencies and services to ensure that young people receive support to engage in education, employment, and on housing and health and wellbeing issues.
Integrated Gangs Team
- The Integrated Gangs Team (IGT) works with gang-affected young people aged 10 – 24 involving the police, children’s services, youth and community services, youth offending and probation services, the NHS, and specialist voluntary agencies who are co-located to provide a joined-up and intelligence-led response to gangs and youth violence in Islington. The service is under-pinned by a robust safeguarding approach as well as the use of enforcement where required, facilitated by the co-location with the Islington Police Gangs unit, and the use of a wide range of statutory and civil powers, including tenancy action, where gang members continue to offend and pose a risk to the public.
- The IGT is rolling out a new Prevention Offer to respond to the need to intervene earlier and with a younger age range of children and young people (ages 10-24) who are identified as on the cusp of serious gang violence. The IGT is extending its existing offer of individual work, group work and consultancy to this broader range of children and young people, including to the siblings of those involved in gangs.
Intensive Supervision and Surveillance (ISS)
- The Council’s investment in two permanent ISS workers for the YOS is proving to be essential in reducing remands and custodial sentences for high-risk young people in the borough. ISS can be used as an alternative to custody for young people who are at risk of custody and provides 25 hours a week of intensive support for up to 6 months. The young people subject to such orders have to engage with positive activities in the community and significant efforts are made to get them engaged with Education, Training and Employment. Our top gangs nominal remained offence-free for a year whilst subject to ISS.
YOS pre-court pane:
- This multi-agency panel meets to decide the outcomes for Triage cases. It will soon be relaunched to capture instances where a young person’s case has been No Further Actioned (NFA). This will ensure that young people who meet this category are offered an offer of support that can, if the young person has difficulties, help them to overcome these and not enter the criminal justice system at a later date. A recent learning review of the top five most prolific offenders in the borough shows that most of them had earlier offences dropped and there was No Further Action.
Bogus callers knocking on residents’ doors seems to be a common occurrence in the Whitehall Park area. It is usually someone claiming to be from a charity, such as Action for Blind People. They often say that they are not there to raise money but just to talk about the charity, though when asked for leaflets or information about the charity are unable to give any. One particularly persistent caller, a well-dressed and well-spoken woman, claims to be participating in a charity run for cancer and asks for sponsorship. Asked for credentials or a website she claims that it’s so last-minute it’s not up and running yet, and to go to the Cancer Research website. Of course, when you do there is no mention of her or her sponsored run. When she tried to get money from me she gave her address as a house in Gladsmuir Road, which i knew to be owned by one of our members. When I challenged her on this she became quite indignant, storming off saying she’d never been more insulted. I feel it’s something she might have to get used to. If I’d had my wits about me I would have got a photo of her. Perhaps other residents could be on the lookout and snap one, though I know of several locals who have fallen for her wiles.