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Fall in moped crime is down to ‘psychological warfare’

Islington’s top cop hails 90 per cent decline over past 12 months after highly skilled officers used nimble ‘scrambler-style’ motorbikes and high-powered cars to pursue offenders

03 August, 2018 — By William McLennan

Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Raphael: ‘From a criminological perspective, if you think you are going to get caught, you probably don’t do it’

A STARK decline in moped crime is the result of “psychological warfare” striking fear in the hearts of offenders, Islington’s most senior police officer claimed this week, as he maintained the Met had not been too slow to tackle London’s phone snatch bandits.

Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Raphael said that there had been a “massive reduction” in the offences – in which predominantly teenage offenders use stolen vehicles to snatch mobile phones and commit smash-and-grab robberies – with figures showing a fall of more than 90 per cent in 12 months.

Police chiefs have repeatedly faced hostile crowds of victims at public meetings in the past four years, with claims that criminals were being allowed to act with impunity.

Dr Raphael, who has a PhD in criminology, said: “From a criminological perspective, if you think you are going to get caught, you probably don’t do it.”

He added: “In some ways it’s psychological warfare, but it’s psychological warfare brought about by convictions, seeing a visible presence, knowing they can’t get away on their bikes because they are being pursued.”

Moped crime has been a thorn in the side of the Met

Highly skilled drivers, using nimble “scrambler-style” motorbikes and high-power cars, had proved instrumental, he said. They are regularly authorised to chase offenders and use “tactical contact” to knock riders from their vehicles.

He said the progress was also thanks to the deployment of remotely controlled “stingers”, that can deflate tyres; “DNA spray guns”, which mark offenders with a unique code and a team of detectives that are “knowledgeable around the offenders and the methodology”.

Linking multiple offences to individuals had “empowered the courts to deliver a harsher sentence,” he said, which had a deterrent effect. “I also think it won’t be lost on [sentencing judges], the impact that this crime is having on the wider community.”

Moped crime has been a thorn in the side of the Met for more than a decade and residents have held a series of heated public meetings on the issue over the past four years.

Offending reached a peak last summer as 1,125 offences recorded across Camden and Islington in July last year – equating to 36 offences per day. There had been 94 offences by July 31 this year.

Asked if police had taken too long to act, Dr Raphael said he accepted that “big organisations can be slower to respond, less agile”, but added: “I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I think the challenge with these things is finding what works, like many of these wicked problems. If it was really obvious at the start, you would do that at the start. I think it has taken time to find the solution, if I’m honest.”

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