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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Lambeth worst hotspot for robbery
Police cordon off an area where Derek Bennett was shot dead after brandishing a cigarette lighter
Lambeth includes Brixton, where Derek Bennett was shot dead by police
The London Borough of Lambeth, where this week police shot dead a man carrying a gun-shaped cigarette lighter, has the highest rate of robberies in England and Wales.

Home Office figures unveiled on Thursday make the south London borough one of the biggest crime hotspots in the UK.

Street robberies have rocketed by 38%, and now stand at 17 for every 1,000 people who live in the borough.

The official figures revealed most crime hotspots were also inner-city areas, with cities such as Manchester and Nottingham also recording high crime rates.

Sharp rise

Figures for Lambeth show there has also been a sharp rise in other violent crime in the borough.

"Violence against the person" has risen an average of 29% year-on-year.

Worst for burglary
Nottingham - 53 (per 1,000)
Manchester - 50
Middlesborough - 50
Hull - 47
Salford - 44
Leeds - 44
Bolton - 41
Source: Home Office

Its burglary rate is now the seventh highest in the country at 37 per 1,000 households, and there were more than 4,600 muggings were recorded last year

Yet police in Lambeth have a low, and falling, clean-up rate. They solve fewer robberies than any other area of England and Wales - about one in 20.

This compares with general clear-up rates in London of 15%, and a national figure of 24%.

Witnesses scared

Police in Lambeth say the reluctance of witnesses to get involved is one of the reasons behind their low detection rate.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Tim Godwin told the BBC: "In some cases, a crime will be reported to us and then parents, when they become involved, don't particularly want their child to make a statement in order to support the investigation for fear of what might come out of that.

Girl talks on mobile phone
Many robberies are children stealing mobiles from other children
"We have to work out how we can encourage people to support us in order to see the investigation through."

Teenage boys are to blame for the high robbery rates, the Home Office says, with mobile phone theft said to account for 40% of all robberies in some areas.

Rory Campbell, who runs a Lambeth centre trying to keep teenagers away from crime, says many youngsters have nothing else to offer them hope.

"If they're not in education, they've got no job, and a crack dealer will say to them: 'Sell this for me and I'll give you 200', what option are they going to take?"

Other hotspots

Lambeth's closest rivals for robbery were another London borough, Hackney, with 11 per 1,000 people and Manchester, also with 11.

But its burglary total was beaten by seven other areas, including Nottingham and Manchester.
Manchester city centre
Manchester also had high robbery and burglary rates

Violent crimes exceeded 30 per 1,000 residents in five London boroughs (Hackney, Islington, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets) and in Blaenau Gwent in Wales.

There were more than 25 violent offences per 1,000 population in Lambeth, and also in Manchester, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Caerphilly and the London boroughs of Camden, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Hounslow.

See also:

19 Jul 01 | UK
Violent crime on the rise
04 Jun 01 | Talking Point
How safe do you feel in Britain?
16 Jan 01 | UK
The UK's crime hotspots
02 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Cannabis 'not being decriminalised'
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