The Wandsworth division of the Metropolitan Police have been thoroughly castigated by the IPCC in the past week, over repeated failings that led to an estimated 80-100 women in the Balham & Tooting area being stalked, attacked and sexually assaulted.
Kirk Reid targeted women around Balham and Tooting tube stations, and despite similarities between the 27 incidents Reid was convicted for, and many others he is suspected to have committed, Wandsworth Police failed to draw together the patterns forming in these incidents to realise they were dealing with a repeat offender, operating within a very specific geographic area.
Will Wandsworth Police learn from their mistakes? Maybe. An email from the Safer Neighbourhoods team within the Met dropped into my inbox on Monday morning, the morning the IPCC’s findings were published:
From: <SNTWW-Balham@met.police.uk>Date: 27 June 2010 12:48:21 BSTSubject: Information to Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinatorsDear All Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators,I am not sure if you are all aware, but we have recently had a small number of incidents, where mobile phones, handbags and MP3 players are being stolen from lone females walking home from Clapham South tube.This is usually late at night, post 2300hrs and when they have been on their mobile phones or their MP3 players. The male suspect is targeting women for these items.We are putting out a message, that if people need to use their phones, then do it within the confines of the Station and not to use them or listen to their MP3′s whilst walking home. When walking home late at night, try to stay to well lit roads and not to use short cuts.The suspect is described as a Black male, approx F508 – F510. Please could you disseminate to people, to be vigilant in reporting any suspicious behaviour or activities to police via the 999 system.RegardsTony Perrott PC637WWBalham Safer Neighbourhood TeamWandsworth Borough( Phone: 020-8247-(3)8362: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org+Address: Trinity Road Police Station76 Trinity RoadLondon SW17 7RJ
So it looks as though crimes similar to Reid’s are being taken more seriously, with the effort being made to alert women to a speight of incidents with certain hallmarks. But the email was sent only to those who had subscribed to the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, so will have a very limited reach. And since Clapham South is a far more affluent area than Balham or Tooting, did crimes in that area resonate more the police than incidents further down the Northern Line?
Photo by hugovk, used under Creative Commons.