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Robberies surge sparks Jeremy Corbyn’s call for U-turn over police cuts

Corbyn issues plea for more officers as public meeting hears ‘We are afraid to leave our homes’ claims

23 March, 2018 — By Emily Finch

MP Jeremy Corbyn, flanked by Cllr Andy Hull and Inspector Steven Murfin, at the meeting

LABOUR Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the government to reverse police cuts as some of his constituents told a meeting they were too scared to leave their homes after a series of violent robberies in their roads.

Mr Corbyn was speaking at a community meeting on Tuesday night organised by Archway and Tufnell Park residents following months of anti-social behaviour, which has seen more than 100 robberies, some involving knives.

The Islington North MP told the packed meeting at House on the Rock church, in Tufnell Park Road: “I am concerned in the longer term about police funding and local authority funding because, while police have been able to move resources around a bit to deal with this, what I don’t want us to be doing is endlessly chasing areas of high crime, where police move from one area to another to deal with that then have to move on.”

He added: “I would like to go back to the situation where we had better staff and Safer Neighbourhoods teams all across the borough.”

He preferred the use of “restorative justice”, alongside strict probation orders and community orders, rather than imprisoning young offenders.

“If we as a society then end up putting a large number of people in young offenders’ institutions the problem with that is there is somewhere between a 60 and 70 per cent likelihood they will reoffend and go on to the adult prison estate,” he said. “You ask yourself how much is that going to cost us and what good is that going to do in their lives?”

Packed meeting at the House on the Rock church in Tufnell Park

Inspector Steven Mur­fin, from the borough’s Safer Neighbourhoods team, explained to the meeting that “the MB gang” was contributing to the crime hike.

“They have caused significant problems and they are linked to young people from this area,” he said. “We have arrested a significant number of people but every time we arrest them and put them before the court, unfortunately the court hasn’t given us as strong a judicial disposal as we would like.”

He said the “main perpetrator” had recently received a four-year sentence for robbery. Every suspected member of the MB group had been visited by police or a member of the Safer Neighbourhoods team, he assured the meeting.

Territorial Support Group officers, a highly-trained unit used during riots, had been deployed to St George’s ward and Archway.

“From the start of the year to now there have been 105 robbery offences in both Junction and St George’s wards,” he added. “That’s more than we’ve ever had before and we are aware of the problem. But that has come down significantly in the last two weeks. We won’t stop.”

Tufnell Park resident Liz Case, one of the residents who helped organise the meeting, asked police to provide posters in her road to warn residents of potential robbery.

“We need something on street level to say moped and bicycle robbers are operating in this area,” she said. “Some people don’t know the dangers.”

Inspector Murfin said he wanted to look at long-term solutions. Posters would “blend into the surroundings” after a few days and may make some residents unnecessarily afraid.

He was met by a chorus telling him: “We are already afraid to leave our homes.”

At an earlier meeting in November it was revealed that residents had contacted St George’s ward councillor Satnam Gill about hiring a private security firm to patrol the area.

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