As the sunshine returns, so with it comes the projected spike in moped related crime. Last year saw countless column inches dedicated to stories of brazen thugs, terrorising the public on some of our busiest, most iconic streets, as vehicle thefts, snatchings and ram-raids began taking place with shocking aggression and lamentable regularity.
Since last year, I have been in correspondence and met with a number of alarmed constituents, some of whom themselves victims, to discuss this most serious of issues. With their views and experiences at the forefront of my mind, I have taken all of our concerns to Ministers and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for a full commentary on their strategy for grappling with this increasingly worrying problem.
Naturally, the Government is troubled by the spate of moped related crime and I am pleased that it is fully engaged on this issue, with the Minister for policing, Nick Hurd MP, having already chaired two meetings which brought together key stakeholders in a ‘full and open discussion’ about the problem. With a third meeting scheduled for June in which further progress will be reviewed, I have requested to be fully briefed on proceedings and will press to have the views of my constituents directly fed into the discussions. Further to this, Minister Hurd recently answered the call from the Police Federation to give more legal protection against mendacious prosecutions for dangerous driving to officers in pursuit of criminals riding without helmets. A welcomed proposal which sends a serious message to criminals about our determination to bring them to justice.
In addition to the measures being taken by the Government, the MPS is also working hard to quell this issue. Before Christmas, I attended a parliamentary briefing from the MPS on moped, knife and acid crime which, while sobering, was most insightful. Although moped thefts in Westminster are down 7 per cent on 2016's figures, moped enabled crime, i.e. snatchings or violent robbery, has increased dramatically year on year. Overall, Westminster Police have been working hard to tackle the difficulties that moped enabled crime creates and the subsequent effect on victims. Having met last month with our new area commander, Ch Supt Rob Jones, and corresponded with borough lead, Det Supt Jess Ruddell, I am reliably informed that as a direct result of sustained proactive operations, Westminster is currently experiencing a rolling year 75 per cent reduction in moped enabled crime, a 50 per cent reduction in moped theft from March to April and a 20 per cent reduction over the rolling year. All very encouraging, indeed.
Of course, there is still much to do, particularly in the coming months if recent trends are anything to go by. This summer will be the acid test of the authorities’ collective efforts; one which I am quietly optimistic they will pass. I, as ever, will continue to play my part through conversations with MPS and by lobbying the Government, and will continue to keep a watchful eye on developments in this area in the months ahead.
See the Minister's full response to my representations below.
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