Signs of crime drop in London's parks – as figures show 70 per cent of offences are thefts and drugs
Thefts and cannabis offences make up 70 per cent of crimes in London’s Royal Parks, official figures show.
Overall, the number of crimes in the eight parks have remained consistent, with signs of a drop in numbers this year.
But there are hundreds of thefts every year, partly due to high tourist football, as well as hundreds of instances of cannabis possession.
Meanwhile, 28 people were raped and 103 suffered grievous bodily harm. There was one murder: 62-year-old Jairo Medina in Hyde Park in 2016.
The parks – Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park, St James’s Park and Green Park – are policed by the Met’s Operational Command Unit. A spokesman insisted they are safe spaces, taking into account the tens of millions of visitors each year.
He said: “Officers carry out regular foot, cycle and vehicle patrols. Overall levels of crime within the Royal Parks have been relatively consistent over a number of years.
“Crime within the parks are very low when taking into account the large volume of people visiting year on year.”
Thefts were recorded as 454 in 2013, 393 in 2014, 387 in 2015, 432 in 2016, 421 in 2017 and 226 so far this year. Of these, 320 were of pedal cycles.
Cannabis possession, despite making up a third of reported crimes since 2013, has been in decline. There were 614 instances in 2013 and 414 in 2014. However, this dropped to 255 in 2015, with 280 in 2016, 277 in 2017 and 119 so far this year.
But Joanna Clark, who sits on the safer parks panel for the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, said this was inevitable given Hyde Park’s estimated 13 million visitors a year. It also hosts concerts and demonstrations.
She told the Standard: “Hyde Park has a very high footfall of tourists. You can almost think of it in terms of shopping streets. Hyde Park is comparable to Oxford Street, which has thousands more people than, say, Richmond High Street.
“You are going to have more crimes where there are more people, but we have also been encouraged with the reduction of incidents this year.”
The figures showed there were 308 crimes in Hyde Park up to August 31, compared to 634 in the entirety of 2017.
Ms Clark continued: “Much of it is lower level crime, such as theft of bikes, rather than serious crimes. We don’t see many nasty incidents like the water fight a couple of years ago.”
Ms Clark added: “If you think about London, being such a big city, we are relatively incident free.”
Regent’s Park has had the second highest number of crimes since 2013, at 650, followed by Green Park with 585.
Bushy Park, despite being the second biggest of the Royal Parks, had the lowest number with 221.