“Give us our bobbie’s back”: Statistics reveal Tower Hamlets’ epidemic of unsolved vehicle crime

East India Dock Road, the location worst afflicted by vehicle crime in the borough. Picture: Google

East India Dock Road, the location worst afflicted by vehicle crime in the borough. Picture: Google Streetview - Credit: Archant

More than 98 per cent of vehicle crime in Tower Hamlets has gone unsolved over the past three years.

Between October 2015 and August 2018 police received 9,256 reports from people in the borough relating to break-ins, thefts from motor vehicles, damage and vehicle theft.

But according to the Met’s own statistics, they were able to catch less than two per cent of perpetrators – with 9,116 cases still open, never updated, or closed without a suspect identified.

Nineteen people have gone to prison since October 2015 for vehicle crimes in Tower Hamlets, while another 19 went to court and were found not guilty. Sixteen court cases were not able to proceed.

Earlier this year concerns were raised by the Mayor of London that government police funding cuts had hit the capital harder than anywhere else in England and Wales, with figures suggesting a 20% fall in spending per head of the population since 2012/13.


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Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “After eight years of austerity under this Conservative government we’ve lost over 200 police officers from the streets in Tower Hamlets, meaning police are overstretched and cases are going unresolved. We will continue to campaign for the government to give us our bobbies back.”

A Met Police spokesperson said that in the case of thefts from vehicles, identifying the perpetrator posed a “particular challenge” for officers.

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She said: “Theft from motor vehicles is a prime example of an opportunistic crime where the suspect will not hesitate to smash a car window and find some valuables to steal, all within seconds.

“Often there can be limited opportunities to identify the perpetrator. The introduction of dash cams inside vehicles and CCTV outside the vehicle greatly improves our ability to identify offenders.”

More than 98 per cent of vehicle crime in the borough goes unsolved. Pic: PA

More than 98 per cent of vehicle crime in the borough goes unsolved. Pic: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Over three years the worst-affected ward in Tower Hamlets was Whitechapel, where 814 vehicle crimes were reported over almost three years, of which 794 went unsolved or unresolved.

This was followed by Bow East, where 706 crimes took place, and St Peter’s, with 697.

Asma Begum, Tower Hamlets Council’s deputy mayor and cabinet member for community safety, said: “As a council we’ve listened to resident concerns and despite cuts to our own funding have invested in additional police officers, and our council CCTV leads to three arrests a day.

“However, these vehicle crime stats show the impact of cuts on the ground.”

The worst-afflicted roads for were East India Dock Road, where 81 crimes have taken place, Imperial Street, with 66, Maples Place, with 43, Crowder Street, with 35, and Bow Road, with 34.

Not one of the crimes on East India Dock Road were solved, and just one fine and one community sentence were issued for crimes across these five roads.

Tower Hamlets councillor Kevin Brady, who represents St Peter’s, said “It’s certainly shocking to see the vehicle crime figures in St Peter’s but it absolutely matches what I hear from residents.

“Central government cuts to police have had a huge impact across Tower Hamlets and a consequence of those cuts is rising crime.

“I’m pleased to see the Mayor and Lead Member for Community Safety investing council resources into partnership work with the police but the reality is we need the government to reverse their cuts.

“The people of St Peter’s have every right to expect that crime will be properly investigated and criminals brought to justice.”

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