Police: We’ll seek to evict moped thieves and their families when we can’t get a conviction
Campaigners slam policy that 'ignores concept of innocent until proven guilty'
06 July, 2018 — By William McLennan
Prosecuting ‘prolific offenders’ behind crime wave is complicated, police say
POLICE have said they will try to evict teenagers from their homes if they have “intelligence” that they are carrying out moped crimes but are unable to gather enough evidence for a prosecution.
The senior detective responsible for tackling phone thefts and other “moped-enabled” crimes in Camden said that securing convictions in court was often difficult, so police are instead looking at other ways of pursuing people they believe are behind the crimewave.
The approach has been criticised by civil liberties campaigners, who say it rubbishes the concept of innocent until proven guilty and “lacks any semblance of fairness”.
Outlining new approaches to tackling moped crime, Detective Superintendent Caroline Haines said: “If we’ve got intelligence that someone is a prolific offender but we’re not able to prove it against them, because of the difficulties that I’ve mentioned, then we would work with the local authority around things like eviction notices and making sure we get criminal behaviour orders against the individuals and all the other options that are available to us to try and disrupt offending, even though it might not be as a result of a [prosecution] for the crime itself.”
She said that gathering enough evidence to prosecute was complicated because offenders used a shared pool of stolen mopeds and wore helmets which disguised their identity.
The split-second nature of the crime, which often requires little contact with the victim, means it is unlikely that DNA will be left behind, she added.
Police and Town Hall officials have previously been urged to intervene and evict criminals from council homes.
At a public meeting in January, attended by acting borough commander Superintendent Nick Davies, an audience member said: “It seems to me that one way to break up the gangs is to evict those people that are organising the gangs from those estates.
“Their parents have signed the lease, which will contain a provision that they do not break the law, or permit the law to be broken on those premises. The parents should be evicted.”
Neighbouring Islington Council has said it will start to evict young offenders and their families from their homes.
But Corey Stoughton, advocacy director at Liberty, said: “If the concept of innocent until proven guilty has any meaning at all, there is no justifying a policy of evicting people from their homes when there’s no proof they did anything wrong.
“This policy punishes whole families, including parents and children who the police know have nothing to do with the crimes they are attempting to address.”
She added: “Using mass evictions as a way to get around the police’s inability to identify and arrest actual criminals is collective community punishment lacking any semblance of fairness or the rule of law.”
She questioned the role of police “intelligence” in the process. The Met Police’s gang violence matrix – a database of predominantly young men suspected of criminality – has been criticised for “stigmatising young black men”.
Camden council leader Councillor Georgia Gould said: “Camden Council absolutely shares the concerns about violence on our streets and that we need to find solutions to the crime which is affecting residents in our borough and across London – but evictions are not our answer to it.”