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.
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.