Evening Standard comment: Burglaries wreck lives and need to be stopped; Cypriot justice on trial; Flowers and clean air


The disclosure by the Evening Standard today that the home of Crystal Palace footballer Mamadou Sakho and his wife Majda has become the latest target of a burglary might seem at first look a story from a different world, centring as it does on one of the capital’s most affluent neighbourhoods and on a multi-million-pound property rented from another famous football star.

The same impression might have arisen too from our report earlier this week about the fate of another celebrity burglary victim, the chef Marcus Wareing, who had a gold Rolex, two Omega watches worth more than £12,000, jewellery and other items stolen during a raid on his Wimbledon home by burglars who had flown in from Chile to carry out the crime.

It’s obvious these burglaries have eye-catching features that grab attention, but what’s more important is they illustrate both a bigger problem, affecting rich and poor across the capital, and the trauma that such unpleasant crimes inflict.

On the first point, it’s depressing to note that the latest Met crime figures show there were only fractionally fewer than 60,000 residential burglaries across London last year, slightly down on the year before but still far too many.

Even worse, the “sanction detection” rate is tiny with the statistics showing fewer than 2,000 of the crimes have been solved so far.

As the recent, compelling BBC documentary series on the Met shows, intensive efforts can go into tracking down the serial burglars who carry out many of these crimes and assembling the evidence that can enable their conviction in court.

But as the high level of offending indicates, the police still need to do more and — regardless of the pressures of tackling knife crime — redouble their efforts to bring more offenders to justice.

One reason, apart from ensuring that crime doesn’t pay, is the damaging effect a break-in can have on those living in the home that has been burgled.

It’s not just the financial or sentimental loss, but for many having their personal space invaded is horrific, undermining their feeling of security for months or even years.

The effect on the elderly can be particularly severe. Homeowners must, of course, ensure their properties are secure and ideally protected by alarms, and avoid mistakes such as leaving windows open in the summer when away.

If the police and the courts respond as well, then we hope to have fewer celebrity burglaries to report in future.

Cypriot justice on trial

The British teenager convicted, in unsatisfactory circumstances, of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has launched her appeal today with the aim of getting the verdict overturned. We hope she succeeds.

As the legal support group Justice Abroad, which is backing her fight, points out, this unfortunate young woman did not get a fair trial for a number of reasons.

One, that’s particularly glaring, is the way in which she was subjected by Cypriot police to hours of questioning alone, without legal representation, before the change in her account of the night in question that led to her conviction.

This was hardly the way to treat a vulnerable teenager and should alone be sufficient for her conviction to be quashed.

Cypriot judges should try to mend their system’s battered reputation by doing exactly that.

Flowers and clean air

Traders at Columbia Road Flower Market fear traffic restrictions to improve air quality in their borough risk their livelihood, partly by making it harder to receive deliveries.

Cutting pollution is vital so changes are necessary, but we hope that what’s implemented allows this wonderful Sunday market to prosper for many more decades.

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