Metropolitan Police Service
By Richard Watson
The Metropolitan Police have begun their annual autumn campaign to crack down on violence and anti-social behaviour, with a range of operational activity planned for London over the next three weeks.
The Autumn Nights campaign will target violence in particular, with officers active across the capital at a time of year when crime rates typically increase.
Met Commander Jane Connors said the period around Halloween and Bonfire Night, when increased numbers of people took to the streets after dark, was a time in which many people felt vulnerable.
"We know that traditionally at this time of year we see an increase in anti-social behaviour and we start to see a small rise in the levels of violence," Ms Connors said.
"So what we're here to do is make sure that we reassure the communities that we're here to keep them safe, give them crime prevention advice, and make sure we stay on top of any anti-social behaviour and any violence, which is our number one priority.
"What that includes is local safe neighbourhood officers, who will be going around to make sure they give crime-prevention advice, speaking to people who may be vulnerable or scared, particularly at Halloween and Bonfire Night.
"That's the time of year we get anti-social behaviour, and people do get worried."
Officers would also increase their presence through targeted patrols in areas expected to be particularly affected by violence and anti-social behaviour, Ms Connors said.
- Copyright: Met Police
The Met Police has arrested 31 suspected paedophiles in a targeted operation.
Officers from the Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation unit safeguarded 100 children during a "week of action" between 28 September and 3 October.
Over the same period, specialist officers seized more than 300 exhibits and executed 91 search warrants.
There is an "increased threat" of child abuse as people spend more time online, the force said.
Det Supt Helen Flanagan said: "We are committed to keeping young people safe, and bringing perpetrators of grooming and other child abuse and exploitation offences to justice."
By Thomas Mackintosh
BBC News, London
Kevin Clarke's sister spoke after an inqeust into her brother's death.
Body cam footage released by the Met Police shows Kevin Clarke being restrained by officers in a field in March 2018.
Local Democracy Reporting ServiceCopyright: Chris Roudette
Police have revealed there has been a drop of 20,000 reported crimes in Westminster – the highest reduction 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.
According to the Met Police’s latest figures, the number of reported crimes in the borough of Westminster dropped by 20,000 compared with the rolling total in 2019.
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.
Speaking at a Westminster City Council committee on Thursday, Supt Mark Lawrence from the Met’s Central West Basic Command Unit, 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.”
Lockdown saw a 58% drop for reported robberies, and knife crime fell by 56%. However there were more concerns about domestic abuse with “issues around job security & access to children and managing relationships” leading to calls to the police.
Supt Lawrence said there had been just 25 more offences reported in the last 20 weeks – fewer than he expected.
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."
However, he added that police "think the public expects us to be more proactive in our use of legislation" and “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.”