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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Crime falls in cannabis trial area
Commander Brian Paddick
Brian Paddick pioneered the lenient treatment of users
The south London borough which is piloting a scheme to treat cannabis offenders more leniently has seen a dramatic drop in the level of street crimes.

The number of robberies and muggings in Lambeth has halved in the last six months, and the latest figures for this month show the trend is continuing.

Police have stemmed the rate of increase in the number of street crimes right across London.

But the drop in Lambeth is considerable, according to figures released on Wednesday.


There is a massive saving of resources achieved by this reduction in crime

Det Supt Jim Webster, Lambeth Police

There were 468 robberies and muggings in the Lambeth area last month, compared with 916 in October.

So far this year, robbery is down by 18% - the highest street crime reduction in London.

Police say the use of traffic officers on robbery patrols and operations targeted at known suspects have helped bring about the reduction.

Cannabis warning

Senior officers also acknowledge the contribution by the borough's former Commander Brian Paddick, who was removed from his post in March.

His scheme, to warn those caught in possession of cannabis rather than arrest them, was part of a plan enabling police to focus on street crime.

Detective Superintendent Jim Webster, crime manager for Lambeth Police, told BBC News Online that putting an extra 40 officers into the area had played a key part in crime reduction.

He said "it would not be useful" to comment on any role the cannabis scheme may have played in the reduction of crime, while a "serious study" was looking at this issue.

"We are prioritising the areas that local people hold to be vital, such as street crime and drug dealing," he said.

"There are some 450 fewer people per month becoming victims of street robbery now as compared to six months ago.

"This the result of concentrated effort from many agencies within the borough.

Successful initiatives

"There is a massive saving of resources achieved by this reduction in crime."

Police said successful initiatives included the use of robbery response cars operating six days per week between 1600 and 0200 BST Monday to Saturday.

Police, working with Lambeth housing department, have also been targeting convicted youngsters and teenagers suspected of involvement in crime.

Their parents are being visited and in some cases they have been warned that their children's behaviour could lead to their eviction.

Police have also concentrated on a number of Tube stations to carry out crime prevention and have installed surveillance cameras at key crime hotspots.


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Find out more about the Commander Brian Paddick

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27 Mar 02 | England
12 Apr 02 | England
16 May 02 | UK
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