Indian visitors in London targeted by thieves, burglars

The issue of Indian visitors being targeted by thieves has been raised with the UK Home Office department, but deep funding cuts in recent years have reportedly slashed the number of police officers and resources, adversely affecting security.

world Updated: Nov 30, 2018 01:06 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
London,Indians in UK,Scotland Yard
A Union flag flies in the wind in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in central London on November 3.(AFP Photo)

Many Indians, who recently visited London, have been targeted by thieves who distract the individuals and take their belongings, such as purses containing passports, credit cards and other items.

A senior Indian industrialist’s purse was stolen this week from a prominent hotel in central London, which contained her passport and other items. Complaints to the police did not elicit prompt response or investigation, she alleged.

Preferring not to be named, she said: “The two thieves were caught in the hotel’s CCTV clearly, but there was no police action. We were told that they do not have resources to deal with such crime. Is this the state of security in London, of all the places?”

In another recent incident, a person was left with no money to even travel to the Indian high commission to seek help. Indian officials say they have received several requests in recent months from affected individuals for emergency travel documents to return to India.

The issue of Indian visitors being targeted by thieves has been raised with the UK Home Office department, but deep funding cuts in recent years have reportedly slashed the number of police officers and resources, adversely affecting security.

London has also been hit by a spate of stabbing, burglaries and other low-level crimes in recent months.

A third of crime reported to Scotland Yard is now dealt with by a unit called the Telephone and Digital Investigation Unit (TDIU) set up in April 2017 as part of efforts to tackle crime as well as deal with the funding cuts under the Conservative government.

Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons told Hindustan Times: “Every crime reported to us is investigated, whether that’s through face to face contact with an officer or detective or through alternative routes such as the TDIU.”

“But like any organisation we have got a budget to work to, we have demand to meet, and have to make decisions about what we prioritise”.

Simmons admitted that, “There are going to be crimes that we are responding differently to than we would have in the past, but it is not to say that because a response team won’t be deployed to an incident that these crimes won’t be investigated in a different way.”

He added: “The TDIU investigates a wide range of crimes including shoplifting, vehicle theft, criminal damage, assault, and burglary. All incidents of crime are of the utmost importance, but of course I would much rather our detectives are investigating stabbing and diverting gang members rather than dealing with some of the work which was possible to do when numbers were not so tight”.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 22:14 IST