Coronavirus: Crime falls by 48% in Islington and Camden during Covid-19 lockdown

From left: Acting Inspector Darren Jones, Sgt Johnson, Park Guard officers, and Cllr Kaya Comer-Schw

From left: Acting Inspector Darren Jones, Sgt Johnson, Park Guard officers, and Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

Crime has fallen by almost half across Islington and Camden over the past two weeks compared to the same period last year, according to a top police chief.

Acting inspector Darren Jones said police in both boroughs have issued 43 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) to people flouting social distancing rules since lockdown began, arresting one person.

Insp Jones, who’s in charge of neighbourhood policing in Islington, says just 14 FPNs have been issued in his borough and that crime has dropped by 48% in total.

Police have new powers under emergency Covid-19 legislation to issue people FPNs to people ignoring public health guidance on social distancing, such as making non-essential travel.

Officers can fine people £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days. They can also issue a FPN of £120 for repeat offenders – and those who refuse to pay can be taken to court where magistrates are able to give unlimited fines.

Insp Jones told the Gazette: “The important thing is for the community to have trust in us that we haven’t gone away. If they need us we still have the capacity, and ample of it, to respond. Don’t think you’re burdening us, the Met Police, and the local authority if not us, will be there.”

He says about 10% of Islington’s officers have been off work at any one time during the pandemic, but Islington police are still meeting 96% of their targeted response times.

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Insp Jones also says recorded incidents of domestic violence in Islington are down by 26% over the past two week compared to this time last year, while domestic abuse calls are “down just short of 10 per cent”.

However, domestic abuse charities such as Solace Women’s Aid have cautioned that many victims are stuck at home with their abusers so may be unable to use a phone or computer to call for help.

Islington’s education lead and stand-in crime chief Cllr Kaya Comer-Schartz told the Gazette: “The referrals we are getting through safeguarding show an increase in the level of violence, where violence is reported it’s a lot more horrific then we would usually see.”

Cllr Comer-Schwartz added: “In March zero young people were the victims of knife crime [in Islington] so that’s really showing we are making positive progress.”

She says the council and police have been working together to take advantage of the “quiet period”, for instance by engaging with young people at higher risk of exploitation.

Click here for a directory of agencies helping people in the borough during the pandemic.

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