Police investigating a series of bikejackings in and around Richmond Park, including incidents in which cyclists have been threatened with machetes, have arrested a 16-year-old male. Meanwhile, the local MP has raised her concerns over levels of policing in the park, saying that the recent attacks are deterring constituents from exercising there.
The youth was arrested last Friday 15 October on suspicion of robbery, attempted robbery, possession of an offensive weapon and allowing to be carried in a stolen vehicle.
The Metropolitan Police Service say that he has been charged with offences related to a separate investigation, and remains under investigation for the robberies in the southwest London park.
The series of violent robberies began on the afternoon of Thursday 7 October when Alpecin-Fenix professional cyclist Alexandar Richardson was targeted by four males on two mopeds near Roehampton Gate who chased him and forced him off his bike.
> Alexandar Richardson interviewed on the road.cc Podcast
The 31-year-old was forced to surrender his bike when he was threatened with a machete and sustained minor injuries in the incident – although he recovered in time to ride Sunday’s men’s elite road race at the national championships in Lincoln, where he finished sixth.
On Monday 11 October at around 5pm, 37-year-old Mike Radville from Lewisham was threatened with a machete by two males on a moped in Danebury Avenue, SW15, the pair making off with his bike.
Mr Radville, who sustained minor injuries when he fell from his bike, said afterwards that he thought he was going to be “decapitated in the street” by the robbers after one of them began waving the machete at him and described the incident as “terrifying.”
> Richmond Park bikejacking victim feared being “decapitated in the street” by machete-wielding thugs
At around the same time, another male cyclist was pushed from his bike on Roehampton Lane, again by two males on a moped. In this case, the cyclist was not injured and his bike was not taken.
Police are continuing their investigation and anyone with information is asked to call 101 or tweet @MetCC quoting CAD 5103/07OCT, or the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Since news of the attacks emerged, the number of cyclists using the Royal Park is reported to have fallen by as much as 80 per cent, despite police stepping up their patrols.
Earlier this month, Chief Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple, who is responsible for local policing in south-west London, said: “Many people in the area would have seen these reports on social media and will understandably be concerned.
“I can reassure you that we are doing everything we can to track down those responsible for these terrible crimes.
“Everyone should be able to feel safe when using Richmond Park and that’s why I have arranged for additional officers to be in the area over the coming days.
“They will work alongside our dedicated Royal Parks officers and I would encourage anyone with concerns to approach them, or to call 999 in an emergency,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, has written to Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, to express her concern about the recent robberies and wider issues in the areas. Here is the text of her letter:
Re: Policing in Richmond
As the MP for Richmond Park, I wanted to raise my concerns about the current level of policing in the constituency.
Last week, there were two appalling incidents of bike theft in Richmond Park itself.
On Wednesday (06.10) a cyclist was approached by two males on e-scooters before being pushed off and having his bike stolen. On Thursday (07.10), a group of four males approached a cyclist before knocking him over. In the ensuing struggle to take the bike, one of the men produced a machete, at which point the cyclist let the bike go.
The Outer Parks Sergeant for Richmond Park has since explained that Officers are currently investigating the robbery and are looking at CCTV. He has also explained that they will be holding a cycle safety event on Saturday 23rd and that, in light in last week’s robberies, they will be providing crime prevention advice as well. There have been extra patrols in the park to offer reassurance to the public.
While these are welcome measures, I do not think they will be sufficient in satisfying the widespread and deeply held concerns that a growing number of my constituents have. In addition to the aforementioned incidents, I am hearing of regular bike thefts in other parts of my constituency, particularly on Richmond Park Road, with the criminals themselves rarely, if ever, being caught. This, my constituents fear, is only encouraging would-be thieves and has led a number of local residents to stop exercising at night.
While the Outer Parks Sergeant my office spoke to stressed that the Park remains a safe place to cycle, he explained that the two police officers who are on duty between 7am and 10pm are also responsible for covering Bushy Park. This seems like a very modest provision of resources.
In previous conversations with Royal Parks they’ve also explained that the focus is more on encouraging civil behaviour, rather than enforcement. However in light of recent events I would urge those responsible for policing the Park to think far more expansively about what kind of measures can be put in place to ensure that visitors can be confident of having a safe and enjoyable stay in the Park. This, I must stress, is a key concern. There’s no doubt that Richmond, as a Borough, falls behind many other parts of the city in terms of crime levels.
Yet I strongly believe we have a duty of care to make sure local residents can feel safe. Given recent events and the relatively low levels of police resources that are in place to address them, I would argue that we are failing to provide such assurances.
One specific area I would urge you to look into is the extent to which police resources are often funnelled out of the Borough and into more central parts of the city. While I recognise there is a clear appetite to provide robust police responses to the various civil demonstrations London has seen over the past two years, it remains critical that resources are kept in other parts of the capital to ensure that violent and criminal activity can be tackled effectively.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Member of Parliament for Richmond Park
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