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Shoplifting hotspots in Redbridge laid bare as police turn away from “low level” crimes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 December 2019

Dozens of attempted thefts have been reported in Ilford High Road. Picture: Ken Mears

Dozens of attempted thefts have been reported in Ilford High Road. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

The leader of Redbridge Council has appealed for more police to be restored to the streets as it emerges just 16 per cent of shoplifting crimes are being solved.

According to Met data shopkeepers in Redbridge have called police 3,049 times since January 2017 about people trying to steal their wares.

Of these 2,572 reports, or 84 per cent, have been closed with no suspect identified, are still under investigation or have not been updated since the original crime report.

Just 99 perpetrators have been sent to prison. Another 31 were handed suspended prison sentences and 13 were slapped with community sentences.

A Met Police spokeswoman said: "The Met is under various pressures including financial challenges and increasing demand. As a result we are having to take decisions about how we prioritise our resources.

Cllr Jas Athwal with police officers during a wave of recruitment in 2017. Picture: Ken MearsCllr Jas Athwal with police officers during a wave of recruitment in 2017. Picture: Ken Mears

"Homicide, kidnap, sexual offences or domestic violence continue to be fully investigated. But lower-level, higher-volume offences such as shoplifting will have the policy applied to them to decide what level of investigation is appropriate."

Cllr Jas Athwal, the crime lead for cross-party organisation London Councils, said nine years of austerity was to blame.

He said: "People roll their eyes when we say police numbers are being cut but that is a fact.

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"The other problem is every time there is a terrorist incident we are left even more barren in terms of police officers."

The council has its own CCTV cameras monitoring key locations and a 10-strong enforcement team.

According to police data there have been 775 reported thefts from supermarkets in Redbridge since 2017, as well as 128 from petrol stations and 740 in shopping centres.

Due to an anomaly in police mapping the largest number of reports were logged on or near Postway Mews in Ilford, where no fewer than 122 shoplifting offences were reported in two years.

The narrow street runs behind the bustling high-street stores of Ilford High Street, where another 56 crimes were logged by police.

Another 203 incidents were reported near The Exchange in Myrtle Street and Havelock Street, and another 43 in Station Road.

Almost a third of all shoplifting crimes - 911 in total - took place in the Clementswood ward alone, where 41 people have been sent to prison as a result.

The other worst-hit wards were Valentines with 574 crime reports, Newbury with 170, and Seven Kings with 166.

In terms of police cuts, Cllr Athwal said, "We are the victims.

"I'm hopeful now, because the new prime minister has promised 20,000 new police officers and I would like to appeal to the government to give us these resources so that people can do their Christmas shopping in peace."


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