Met steps up patrols as robbers target schoolchildren returning after Christmas break

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley joined officers in east London to focus on winter night patrols  (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley joined officers in east London to focus on winter night patrols (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

The Met says it has stepped up patrols to combat robbers targeting schoolchildren as they begin the new term.

The force said it was part of its Winter Nights operation to clamp down on robbery and violence and includes a focus on the highest harm offenders.

The force’s top cop, Sir Mark Rowley, and Mayor Sadiq Khan visited Ilford, east London on Thursday night to meet school officers in the area.

More than a third of robbery victims in the area are 18 or under, with youngsters targeted for their phones or branded clothing after school.

Sir Mark said: “It is vital that members of the public feel safe on the streets of London. Every robbery has a significant impact on the victim.

“Our teams are doing fantastic work in Ilford, and across the capital to target opportunistic robbers who fuel violence.”

The force also said Friday that the number of murders in London fell to its lowest since 2014, and that teenage homicides had fallen by half.

While calling every death a “tragedy and one too many”, officers and the mayor said they wanted to build on the progress.

“Tackling violence and making London safer for everyone is my top priority and I’m more determined than ever in 2023 to build on the progress made in reducing knife and gun crime, burglary and teenage homicides, which have all fallen since 2016, bucking the national trend,” said Sadiq Khan.

“But the level of violence remains too high and that’s why it is so important that the Met Commissioner is taking action to ensure officers are in the right place at the right time to keep our communities safe and drive down robberies and other crimes, day and night.”

Police advised the public to plan their routes and think about what to take with them – especially if going somewhere new – to protect against the risk of robbery.

Other suggestions included keeping to well-lit streets covered by CCTV and not leaving any mobiles, wallets or purses on the table of an outdoor cafe or restaurant.