Kensington & Chelsea residents angry over rampant moped crime have taken the step of bringing in a marketing agency to help them get locals and shoppers to sign a petition calling on the police to put more officers on the streets in the run up to Christmas.
Staffing agency StreetPR, which is more used to handing out flyers and samples and raising brand awareness, will be putting 10 of its brand ambassadors onto the streets around Knightsbridge to collect signatures.
The campaign, which is being funded entirely by concerned shopkeepers, businesses and residents, is backed by local MP Mark Field, local police and the deputy Mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden.
The petition, which is aimed at Prime Minister Theresa May – who as Home Secretary cut police budgets and is being held responsible for the crime epidemic – will highlight the rise of theft and assault by moped gangs and call for a greater police effort to crack down on the issue. Moped Muggings in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster jumped to 790 in the year to August 2016, then up to 3,066 in the following year – a rise of nearly 300 per cent. Most of them were in the Knightsbridge and Sloane Square areas.
James Rix, founder and managing Director of StreetPR, says: “When I heard the details of the brief, I knew we had to win it – I’ve had two motorbikes stolen off me by moped gangs, and we’ve had staff robbed at knifepoint by kids on mopeds around Islington and Shoreditch. This is a campaign I really want us to get behind. I’m super-chuffed we’re working on it.”
Damien McCrystal, one of the organisers of the campaign, which is funded by local residents and businesses, says: “The moped muggers appear to feel they have free rein to operate with impunity, because they can see that there are hardly any police on the streets. This has become a very serious problem which threatens to damage London’s international reputation as a safe place to visit and shop, and this could damage the entire UK tourist economy by extension.”
Dorian Payne, Head of Operations at StreetPR, adds: “Crimes committed by moped riders, often under-age, is a growing problem in London and one that we need to crack. Shops are having windows smashed, businesses are being burgled, people are having watches,jewellery and phones snatched by moped riders who think nothing of driving along the pavement and knocking people over. They’re causing huge distress and they’re harming local trade. The area has some of the capital’s most prestigious retail outlets and it’s a destination for UK and overseas shoppers at this time of the year.”