Category Archives: Security

A stabbing in Josephine Avenue – and other crime news

It’s just outside our area, but perhaps worth recording, before looking at the wider picture.

A recent report from the Metropolitan police states that they were called to Josephine Avenue, SW2, at 18.19hrs last Saturday, 20 August to reports of a group of males fighting:

“Officers attended along with paramedics from London Ambulance Service. A man in his 30s was found with stab wounds. He was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital.
A vehicle made off from the scene which failed to stop for the Police. The vehicle was stopped shortly afterwards by Firearms Officers in Coldharbour Lane, SW9. Four occupants were detained and Taser was used to detain one of them.
Two of the occupants of the vehicle were found to have minor stab wounds and were taken to hospital for treatment. All injured parties’ injuries have been confirmed as Non-Life threatening or changing.
A total of six arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing and being led by the local CID.
Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is asked to call 101 and quote CAD reference 6134 of 20th August 2022. Alternatively they can call Crime stoppers or contact www.fearless.org (which is linked to Crimestoppers).”

So this time, fortunately, no-one was killed. But in 2021, London recorded the highest number of teenage homicides caused by knife and gun crimes in modern times. That year, the UK’s capital saw the murders of some 30 male teenagers aged between 14 and 19. This surpassed the record of 29 in 2008.


What of Herne Hill?

Separately, and earlier this summer, we saw some crime figures for Herne Hill circulated by the police Safer Neighbourhood Team for our area (I now attend the panel meetings representing Fawnbrake Avenue). This data records the ‘Total Notifiable Offences’ for the last 11 months to April 2022.

The statistics showed a monthly average of 10 burglaries, four robberies, 32 thefts and 40 crimes against the person.

Still in Herne Hill, recorded possessions of weapons and drug offences were pretty low; in other wards the figures may well have been higher. I am not in a position to explain the difference between some of these categories: definitions of various crimes seem to vary. And it’s worth remembering that even these fairly crude figures can only represent the instances that the police were informed about.

The bigger picture – burglaries

Alongside all that, neighbours may have spotted reports in the national press earlier this summer about the astonishingly low clear-up rate for burglaries across the UK.

In neighbourhoods covering nearly half the country over the past three years, police have failed to solve a single burglary. Of more than 32,000 neighbourhoods analysed, 16,000 of them (46%) had all their burglary cases in the past three years closed with no suspect caught and charged by police.

Almost 2,000 of the neighbourhoods – each containing approximately 3,000 residents – recorded at least 25 burglaries, but none were solved. The worst neighbourhood, in Sheffield, went three years without any of its 104 burglaries being solved.

So for Lambeth?

The figures can be broken down by borough, and show that for Lambeth, 93.3% of burglaries were unsolved (data is for May 2019 to April 2022). The figure for robberies was 92.9% unsolved, and for bicycle thefts 98.3% unsolved. It doesn’t really help that, in the same statistics, Hackney comes out even worse.

So it seems clear that in most areas, burglary has not been regarded as a policing priority. Here in London, knife crime is probably – and understandably – a higher priority.

Yes, we might have expected the police to be able to respond to both types of incident. But on burglaries, some police forces have apparently introduced schemes to “screen” burglaries to decide if they are likely to be solved. If not, they are not fully investigated. These have ranged from the bizarre, where Leicestershire did not fully investigate break-ins at odd numbered houses to save money, to the more sophisticated in Norfolk, where Artificial Intelligence was used to assess the “solvability” of cases based on 29 factors, such as forensics, CCTV and location.

This seems to mean that if there is no CCTV or forensic evidence readily available, the case will often be closed within hours – leaving victims with no prospect of justice and little chance of recovering treasured personal items.

Conclusion

None of this is very reassuring. It’s probably stating the obvious to conclude that the safest lesson to draw from these figures is that we all need to take our own sensible, deliberate and consistent precautions to secure our persons, our families, our residences and our possessions. We can also look out for our neighbourhood and our street, as we on Fawnbrake already do – because, for whatever reason, the police may not be able to spring to help in an emergency when we send out the call.

Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team

Perhaps it’s not generally known that the Metropolitan Police have a Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) explicitly for Herne Hill Ward.

 

 

 

They have asked if members of the community could please complete a short questionnaire, for which the link is given below.

Herne Hill SNT is formed of a Sergeant, two PCs and one PCSO. The team is responsible for keeping Herne Hill safe as well as dealing with any ongoing Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) issues and concerns raised by the local community. They have regular meetings with a panel of community representatives, and aim to issue monthly reports on their activities locally.

The latest report reads as follows:

“The team this month [March] have focused on several community deployments aimed at targeting what have been identified as key priorities on the ward.

“The first tasking undertaken was a bike marking event at Brockwell Park utilizing smart water. This was following several reports of bike thefts. This was incredibly successful with over thirty bikes marked.

“The team then undertook two days of community speed watches on Herne Hill Road and Milkwood Road. This involved the use of a speed gun and saw many community volunteers participate. This led to several speed warnings being issues and one male being arrested for traffic and drug related offences.

“Finally, the team undertook a weapons sweep on the Thorlands Estate (comment: this lies to the north of Coldharbour Lane) with council community enforcement officers. This again was very successful with four knives recovered.

“The team will take on feedback from the ward panel meeting and will be looking to replicate this again in the coming months.”

Click here for link to short survey.

 

Personal and Doorstep Security

These security announcements in the latest Dulwich Society Newsletter are relevant to us here too.

Local muggings

There have been recent reports of single
young women being hassled or mugged near the
junction of Turney Road & Croxted Road

Aggressive doorstep salesmen

There are continued reports of aggressive door-step salesmen
both in the Village and in West Dulwich. Police
advice is to be very careful to check before opening
front doors.

These are probably the infamous ‘Nottingham Knockers’ who were seen in Fawnbrake Avenue in recent months – see this report from SWLondoner quoting advice from Operation REPEAT .

It’s a national problem. Kent Police issued the following advice about doorstep callers earlier this year. This includes:

  • If someone turns up unexpectedly always put a door chain on before opening the door and keep it on while talking to callers.
  • If you don’t have a door chain, check who is at the door from the nearest window
  • Don’t be afraid to turn people away.
  • Always ensure rear doors and windows are shut and locked when answering your front door.
  • Call police if you suspect cold callers may be bogus.

Southwark Police issued the same advice earlier this year.

NappyValleyNet reports similar issues.

Discarded needles/syringes in Brockwell Park

We understand via the Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel that a frighteningly large quantities of discarded needles/syringes are strewn about in Brockwell Park, according to local residents with children that play in there.

They are mostly concentrated within the bushes, where children naturally like to run about in and play. To describe the quantities as ‘scores’ is no exaggeration, we hear.

Our Police Community Support Officers do excellent and effective work in knife and weapon searches, often finding needles etc., but the police are not caretakers and cleaners. Dealing with the needles is a specialised job with Health and Safety implications and the Council, with financial support from central government, possibly via the Mayor’s Office, to make this possible, needs to address this issue. People are recalling a case in 1992 when a 7-year-old found such a needle having unknowingly pricked herself on it. Fortunately, hospital tests gave her full clearance but it could so easily have been a different outcome.

The relevant local councillors in Lambeth have been made aware of this situation, but any parents with children likely to visit the park should perhaps be conscious of the risk and keep an eye on where the children are venturing.

The Nottingham Knockers scam

Who are they?

Nottingham Knockers (that’s where it started, apparently, but it’s a generic name) are usually young men who go door to door, selling household products. They are dropped off early in the morning in a particular location by a large van and are then transported around that area throughout the day until approx 2100hrs.

They will offer to show you ID which will likely be ‘Hawkers Work Creation’ and say they have just been released from prison. This company does not actually exist and is purely a laminated piece of card with their picture on. They will be carrying a large holdall style bag which contains various household items at high prices and will try and hard sell to make more money. They will also tell you about how they are trying to make a better life.

Police all across the country regularly receive calls from the public, who state that upon declining the products, they have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats to cause criminal damage from the sellers. Police have carried out stop checks and the people involved have been identified.

Police advice

If you do experience any verbal abuse and feel intimidated, please call 101 and tell the police what was said, and a description of the person.

Bike theft

You probably don’t need the warning … but just in case, this was posted by someone in SE24 on the Nextdoor website earlier today.

“Stolen bike (Herne Hill, SE24).

Hello all, make sure you keep any bikes firmly locked up, preferably inside at the moment. Someone broke into our communal entrance hallway and stole my hybrid bike on Tuesday night (I’ve now found my bike being sold on Gumtree in Barking 🙄).

 

Our neighbour’s son was also mugged for his bike too recently.

Bike theft is on the rise in the lead up to Christmas so be extra careful. If you’re buying a bike off somewhere like Gumtree, I recommend asking for a picture of the frame number. You can then check if it’s been registered as a stolen bike on websites like Bike Register .”

Christmas parcel scam warning

Norwood Action Group are warning of a Christmas scam involving allegedly undelivered parcels, according to the News from Crystal Palace blog earlier today.

NAG say: “Scammers are using Christmas trading to send fake ‘attempted delivery’ emails using company names like DPD.”

This can be followed by a suggestion that you pay extra for redelivery  –  at which point the scammers have your bank details!

See story here.

Police questionnaire on security in Herne Hill

The local police, based at Brixton Police Station, are helpfully asking HH residents to complete a simple questionnaire.

This is their request and a link to the short questionnaire:

“I have created a quick online survey/questionnaire to gather feedback from the local community on issues in the Herne Hill area.

This is separate to the official ward panel but I think would be useful to discuss at the meetings as the plan is to send it out to a wider catchment of people so we can get a better overview of how Herne Hill residents are feeling.

“Therefore, please feel free to pass on the link below to any other residents of Herne Hill – it should take no longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.

https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CH3SU1/

“Many thanks in advance and do let me know if you have any questions,

 Lucy

Lucy STONE | DWO – Coldharbour & Herne Hill wards| Brixton Police Station| Email lucy.stone@met.police.uk | T0208 649 2007  “

For the sake of accuracy and future policing decisions, it might be good if as many residents as possible respond.

Fighting with a Leylandii cypress hedge?

If you walk to or from the centre of Herne Hill via Herne Hill itself, rather than by Milkwood Road, you may have felt the aggression of the Leylandii hedge pictured here. It’s on the right-hand side (going downhill) outside the flats at number 90 Herne Hill.

Outside no 90 Herne Hill

It extrudes over the 2 metre wide pavement, 70 cm at the bottom of the bushes, but is well over a metre wide at an adult’s shoulder height – over half the pavement’s width. Preserving social distancing, families and couples walking up or down the hill might expect anyone walking the other way to step off the pavement to give them space to pass – but if they do, the uphill pedestrian(s) cannot see the traffic behind them and may rely on hearing and inaccurately judge the situation.

So this could be a tragic accident waiting to happen, all because someone – presumably the owner of the block of flats at number 90 – has failed to maintain the hedge properly.

Further, the nearby pedestrian crossing outside the Church also serves Herne Hill School with 280 pupils aged from 2-7, so there can be well over 300 people gathering at different times of the morning and afternoon, often with smaller siblings in buggies.

The Herne Hill Society have been informally asked to see whether Lambeth Council can deal with this issue, perhaps by themselves cutting the hedge back to the wall, if they have the legal powers to do so.

One of our councillors, Jim Dickson, has been made aware of the problem and has promised to look into it. Meanwhile, please take care when navigating this bullying obstacle.

Whether it’s worth expecting the council to do anything to diminish the pollution thrown out by the traffic converging from all directions, at a snail’s pace, on our junction under the bridge – well, that may be too much to ask. ‘Unintended consequences’ …

Security Alert – local credit/debit card scam

A neighbour has circulated this warning:

“Last Monday, 29th June, soon after 9.am, I was tricked at Herne Hill and my debit card was stolen. Is there any way of making this scam known more widely in this area and warning other people?

It was done very cleverly.

I park in Carver Road in order to be able to take home heavy shopping from Tesco and Sainsbury at Herne Hill.

A young black man, dressed in black and wearing a blue disposable mask, came up to me and said that I need to pay to park there. I said that was not necessary because I have Southwark residence parking permit for this area. He said that there is a new rule for the Covid 19 time and that there is a small fee for parking there in connection with Sainsbury in order to stop people from taking up the space for too long. I said that there were no signs in the street about this and he said that they were being put up soon, and that if I did not get a ticket for the shopping time I could be fined £170. I would be able to see this in on the internet.

I asked him why he was telling me about the parking. He said that he was the undercover Sainsbury parking person. And he explained that I could get the temporary ticket from Sainsbury’s ATM. I thought, well I will go and look at the ATM. Of course I should have checked with Sainsbury’s staff but he kept wandering in and out of Sainsbury’s as if he was a staff member. He stood some distance away and told me how to get the ticket. I put in the card and tapped in the number. The sun was glaring onto the screen so I moved my hand to shade it in order to see the instructions and at this point the card must have been taken. I looked round and there was another man just behind me, also in black clothing and wearing a blue disposable mask. The card was no longer in the slot. I was confused because this man looked like the other man. But then I saw the other man standing near the Sainsbury’s entrance and he said “Try pressing cancel” and “Oh the machine has swallowed it”, you will have to go to report this, there have been problems with this ATM. Go to your bank branch, or go into Sainsbury’s to see if they can get it out”. I went into Sainsbury’s to tell them that the card may be stuck in the machine, but that I think that it has probably been stolen and they said that this has happened there already.

Within 15/20 minutes I had contacted the bank to cancel the card and they told me that £500 had been taken at Tesco ATM shortly after the card theft.”