Wednesday, August 4News For London

Latest ONS crime report leaves students with mixed thoughts on safety in London

Metropolitan Police have implemented new changes in hopes of making civilians feel safer while out in London. [Photograph by Flickr User Ivan Barefield]
The Office for National Statistics recently released a report depicting that crime in England and Wales has had the highest increase throughout the past ten years.

With almost five million crimes reported between April 2016 to March 2017, the number has increased significantly from the 4.5 million crimes reported the year before.

With Westminster being labeled as the most crime-ridden borough in the entire nation due to its abundance of people and size, it raises the question if University of Westminster students feel safe in the city and around campus.

The crimes with noticeably high rises were violent crime by 18%, robbery by 16% and sex offenses with a 14% increase.

Juta Ukla, a first-year interior architecture student who moved to London from Lithuania didn’t feel affected by the statistics: “It’s still safer than my country,” she said.

“I feel safe here

Two MET Officers patrolling Oxford Street [Photo By: Emily Srebotnjak]
because there’s a lot of lights out at night and there’s a lot of police officers here,” said Ms. Ukla.

There are approximately 40,000 police officers that comprise the Metropolitan Police. The MET is responsible for over eight million people amongst 32 boroughs within greater London.

“I think different areas in London are more dangerous than others. The south is known for its gangs but other areas are posh like Chelsea and Kensington,” said Nada Issa, a first-year English literature student who has lived in West London her whole life.

The latest statistics didn’t alarm Ms. Issa, but another type of crime did: terrorism.

“For the amount of stuff they say about terrorist attacks, why have you not got that many policemen out if you care that much about your people. They’re putting it on the news to scare us but they’re not doing anything to fix it,” she said.

Her friend Yasmin Coskun, who is in the same program as her, agreed: “I feel quite safe here when I’m outside but when I’m on the trains and stuff, that’s when I feel a bit scared and unsafe.”

In regards to the violent crime, robbery and sex offense numbers that have risen, MET police constable Francisco Cano-Garcia said that they have implemented changes in hopes of making civilians feel safer.

“[We have] an increase of police presence in the streets at this time of year to target certain crime. We have designated ward officers who will work closely with the community in ways of making the area safer. There’s also school visits, community meetings, etc.”

Officer Cano-Garcia, who has been a constable for almost two years, said that this time of year seems to be the busiest in the West End for thefts and shoplifting.

He also stated that although Westminster has the highest crime rates, the crimes are more serious in other boroughs away from the area. In regards to the statistics, he doesn’t believe that students commuting to and living in the Westminster area should take extra caution, but instead just practice regular safety measures.

“Always be aware of where you are and you’re surroundings, [and] don’t advertise your phone or belongings,” he said.

Mr. Cano-Garcia advises all students to report anything suspicious to the nearest police station if they come across unusual activity in the city.


                            A police van patrolling Argyll Street on 10 December 2017 [Photo By: Emily Srebotnjak]
December Update:

December is one of the London’s busiest months in regards to shopping and tourism, which means there’s a higher chance of more crime to take place. After talking to Officer Cano-Garcia for an update on central London’s safety in early December he thought it would be important to let Londoners know about how to stay safe and be extra cautious during the holiday season.

Mr. Cano-Garcia stated that although general crime decreases around this time of year in The West End, shoplifting increases.

He also said that there’s always upcoming changes to expect from the MET in regards to tackling crime, and new rules/focuses will be implemented in 2018.

There are currently special operations to deal with the increase in moped and knife crime going on around this time of year.

When asked if there was a certain safety tip young Londoner’s should follow during this time of the year, Officer Cano-Garcia said to “never take your phone out in public”, because phone snatching is extremely high right now, especially in the busy streets of Central London, such as Regent & Oxford Street.