Police taking a relaxed approach to ban on smoking in cars

Smoking-2The ban on smoking in cars when children are passengers is not being enforced in London.

The law was introduced on October 1st last year to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying under 18s and both the driver and the smoker, if it’s a different person,  could face fines of £50.

But in response to a Freedom of Information request the Metropolitan Police has revealed that no fixed penalty fines have been issued.  The only incident recorded in the past 5 months was a person given a verbal warning when seen smoking in a car carrying a child on Westminster Bridge.

Anti-smoking campaigners have called for the new law to be enforced.  The Met says that the Department of Health and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have suggested that a period of education is needed before it starts issuing fines.

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As the Met faces cuts to officers, how many patrol your borough?

Police_sagar simkhada shutterstock_333009221-1

Photo: sagar simkhada ┃Shutterstock.com

How many police officers does it take to keep London safe? As the Metropolitan Police faces up to budget cuts that will see it forced to save around £800m in the next 4 years that is the question facing the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

In an interview with LBC he said: If we could keep at least 30,000 cops, I can make this city safe. If it’s below that, I start to get worried.” With the Commissioner already suggesting that cuts could mean losing 5,000 or more, it seems that he is going to get worried.

The latest data for September this year shows that the Met currently has 31,780 officers. Of those, 18,141 are allocated to what it calls Territorial Policing. That is the day-to-day local policing done at borough level. The largest number is in Westminster, the borough that covers much of central London with large numbers of visitors by day and revelers each night.

Police numbers


The rest are allocated to specialist units covering particular crimes like murder or gang violence, or particular operational areas like air support and mounted police.

The average ratio of officers in Territorial Policing to the population of the boroughs is 2.1 per 1,000 people. It is higher in some central areas, particularly Westminster.

Police numbers ratio pop

Looking at the number of officers in relation to what the Met has identified as priority crimes (violence, robbery, theft, burglary) shows a higher caseload for officers in some North London boroughs. In Brent and Islington there are 23 priority crimes per officer. South of the river in Lambeth and Southwark there are 18 and 19.

Haringey and Lewisham offer a good comparison. They have a similar number of officers and ratios of officers to population, but the rate of priority crimes per officer is 21 in Haringey and 17 in Lewisham.

Police numbers ratio crime

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris Sir Bernard said that he wants to increase the number of armed police in the Specialist Firearms Command above the current 2,000 level. If the cuts are to fall most heavily on Territorial Policing it may be the boroughs in North London that feel the greatest impact.

Source data

See also

The Met fails to reflect the face of people it’s policing

Police Taser some young and elderly, and firing is up steeply in some areas

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

Concern about knife crime but rise is small and level well below 2011

dreamstimesmall_3584076-2Knife crime has risen by a small amount in the last 12 months but it is nowhere near the high point of 2011.

The most recent figures from the Metropolitan Police show that in the 12 months to the end of August this year it went up by 6%. During that period the police recorded 10,058 offences. But 3 years ago the figures were much worse. In the 12 months to the end of November 2011 there were 14,570 recorded offences.

It then fell by 35% to its lowest point in recent times in November last year before beginning to rise again slowly.

knife crime

The figures for knife crime with injury where someone was actually cut or stabbed rather than threatened show a similar pattern, falling from a peak of 4,200 in the 12 months to the end of March 2010 to a lowest point in April 2014, since when it has risen slightly.

The chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, has linked levels of knife crime with a reduction in use of powers where officers can stop and search  people if they have reasonable grounds to believe that they are carrying drugs, a weapon or stolen property. In a public criticism the Home Secretary Theresa May described that as a knee-jerk reaction.

The figures for the stop and search have fallen from a peak of 527,000 in the 12 months ending March 2011 to just 149,000 in the 12 months to August 2015.

stop and search

This is a steady drop from peak to trough of 71% and does not have an obvious correlation with knife crime which was falling for much of the period as stop and search was falling.

Source data

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

The Met fails to reflect the face of people it’s policing



Feeling secure? City merely moderate for citizen safety, says study

dreamstime_l_29077431How safe is out city? Only moderately so and a lot riskier than those in East Asia and many European capitals, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Tokyo topped its index of 50 global cities measured by 44 data points, while London trailed in at 18th. Of London’s big global city rivals, New York came 10th and Paris ranked lower in 23rd place.

The EIU Safe Cities Index looked at 4 broad categories – digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety.

London performed best in the personal safety category where it managed 12th place. Personal safety looked at how secure citizens are from theft and violence. It examined police engagement, crime levels and political stability. 4 of the 5 top places went to Asian cities. Stockholm completed the top 5.

All European cities did poorly in digital security though London was the continent’s best performer in 16th place. This category measured the resources dedicated to ensuring that citizens can use the Internet and other digital technologies without fear of privacy violations or identity theft. Asian cities were, once again, the best performers and North American cities also scored well.

Despite the National Health Service London managed only 22nd place when it came to health security. European cities that also have universal health systems generally performed well in this category, which examined life expectancy, ratios of citizens to hospital beds and doctors, and pollution levels. As previously reported, emission levels and deaths attributed to NO2 remain high in London.

The capital’s worst performance was in infrastructure – the safety of the city’s roads and building and its resilience against disaster – where it came half way down the rankings at 25th.  Among the items measured were the frequency of road accidents and pedestrian safety. While accident rates are falling in London, pedestrians remain the most vulnerable, as previously reported by Urbs.

The EIU chose the 50 cities based on regional representation and the availability of data. The list included 7 from North America, 6 from Latin America, 13 European cities, 18 in Asia Pacific and 6 from the Middle East and Africa, though Johannesburg was the sole African city included.

Safe Cities Index 2015
Overall Digital Health Infrastructure Personal
1 Tokyo Tokyo Zurich Zurich Singapore
2 Singapore Singapore New York Melbourne Osaka
3 Osaka New York Brussels Sydney Tokyo
4 Stockholm Hong Kong Frankfurt Amsterdam Stockholm
5 Amsterdam Osaka Paris Tokyo Taipei
London (18) London (16) London (22) London (25) London (12)

Source data

See also

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded

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42 pedestrians and cyclists injured each week by hit and run drivers

Rise in dog thefts hits outer boroughs hardest

dog walking3 or 4 dogs were stolen every week in London last year, and the numbers were up by around 15% on 2013. While dognapping is a relatively rare crime it can be traumatic when an animal that has become like a member of the family is taken away.

Figures released by the Metropolitan Police in response to a Freedom of Information request show that there were 190 reported dog thefts in 2014. This was up from 165 in 2013 and at a similar level to the 194 stolen in 2012.

Combining the numbers over the past three years shows that the greatest problem is in the outer boroughs of Greenwich, Croydon and Bromley. The highest numbers in inner city boroughs were in Lambeth and Southwark.

Dog theft

The lowest level of dog theft was recorded in Richmond with just 4 thefts over the 3 years.

Source data

See also

Barking not worst for bites

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded


Time to celebrate but there’s no pride in a rise in homophobic attacks

Ross Burgess LGBT History Project Creative Commons-2

Photo © Ross Burgess, LGBT History Project ┃Creative Commons

Hundreds of thousands of people will converge on central London on Saturday for the Pride in London parade, the culmination of a week of activities and the biggest LGBT event in the UK.   But despite the celebration and positive sentiment towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that Pride brings out there is darker undercurrent in London – homophobic attacks are up by 50% in the past 18 months.

Data from the Metropolitan Police shows that in the 12 months to the end of April this year attacks reached a new peak with 1,595 crimes reported. Urbs London measured homophobic attacks over 12 month rolling periods from April 2008. As the chart below shows, attacks rose  until September 2010 and then began to fell back to 1,058 in the 12 months ending in August 2013. Since then attacks have risen to the new peak.

homophobic attacks trend

There seems to be a seasonal element to homophobic crime.  Looking at the data by month over the the full calendar years for the period 2009 to 2014 shows monthly averages higher in June and July.

homophobic attacks seasonal

It is not clear from the data, which is based on recorded crimes, how much of the increase is due to better reporting of incidents. Homophobic attacks are classified as a hate crime, and the Met records more hate crimes than any other police service in the UK. But the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, says that it is a category of crime that remains under-reported.

A hate crime is defined as one “which is perceived,
by the victim or any other person, to
 be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic; specifically actual or perceived race, religion/faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.”

Homophobic attacks make up about 10% of hate crimes in London. 75% are based on race and religion.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime last year embarked upon a hate crime reduction strategy based on 3 objectives – improved reporting, prevention and achieving swifter justice for victims. In setting out the strategy the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greelagh, said, “These crimes are rare, but we recognise that society must change to tackle the root causes. Where hate crime occurs we owe it to all Londoners to work as hard as we can to seek justice and enable victims to cope and recover.”

Source data

See also

Police say violent crime is up, but it may be the way it’s recorded



Murder map of London shows more killings north of the river

There were 92 murders in London in the 12 months ending in March 2015 and the highest rates were recorded in the central area of Westminster and 2 outer boroughs, Enfield and Ealing. Each had 6 murders.

Urbs has used the latest data from the Metropolitan Police to plot a murder map of the capital. It shows the second highest rate of 5 murders in the period in a group of north London boroughs – Brent, Haringey, Islington and Hackney. The 10 boroughs that had 4 or more murders were all north of the river.

Crime Murder map

No murders took place in Sutton and Bromley on the southern fringe of the capital or in Havering, on the eastern edge of London.

The murder map shows a different pattern to the map for overall crime. That shows higher crime levels in inner London and lower in the outer boroughs. The map for murder in the past year shows more of a north/south split.

Crime map

To put the London murder statistics in some context, in 2014 there were 328 murders in New York, and that was the lowest rate since 1963.

Source data

The data from the Metropolitan Police does not include the City of London, which has its own police service.

More crime reports


Crime Report: Bromley

The crime rate in Bromley is a lower than the London average by 23%. Criminal damage is a little above the city average and Bromley has a problem with shoplifting.

Within the theft category there were 1,683 shoplifting offences last year. That is 9% above the average for London.

Crime Report Bromley

The most recent crime data from the Metropolitan Police for the year to March 2015 shows that Bromley has a crime rate of 63 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

20,400 crimes were committed in Bromley in the period. All major categories were below London-wide levels except criminal damage, which was fractionally higher.  Drug, robbery and fraud offences were particularly low.

Source data

More crime reports

Crime Report: Bexley

Bexley has a low crime rate, 31% below the London average with some crimes at very low rates.

The most recent crime data from the Metropolitan Police for the year to March 2015 shows that Bexley has a crime rate of 51 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

Crime report Bexley

There were 12,300 crimes in the borough during the period that included 732 incidents of criminal damage to a motor vehicle. This is the only serious offence where Bexley has a higher rate than the London-wide level.

Bike theft is exceptionally low in the borough, 75% below the city average. There is also a low incidence of robbery and fraud.

Of the 92 murders in London in the period, 1 happened in Bexley.

Source data

More crime reports

Crime Report: Barnet

Barnet has a below average level of crime but there were 5 murders in London’s most populous borough in the past year.

The most recent crime data from the Metropolitan Police for the year to March 2015 shows that Barnet has a crime rate of 61 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

Crime report Barnet

There were 23,000 crimes in the borough during the period that included 3,668 burglaries, which is 13% above the London average. There were 533 incidents of interfering or tampering with motor vehicles – that’s 39% above the London average.

Drug offences were at half the rate seen on average across the capital.

Source data

More crime reports