In the last two years, Newham has seen a 45% drop in robberies against businesses. That’s significantly more than the London average drop of just under 15%.
Andrew Stanley from Andrew Stanley Woodworking says he hasn’t been ram raided since London won the Olympic bid back in 2005. Before that, being robbed was something of an occupational hazard.
His business is located just 600 metres from the Olympic site. He says a drop in crime against small businesses like his are one of the positive impacts the Games have had on the area.
Of the six Olympic host boroughs, Newham used to be the worst in terms of business robberies. But in recent years, as the following chart illustrates, there has been a significant drop in this type of crime, and the borough is now on an equal footing with Waltham Forest and Greenwich. The chart shows the number of business robberies in the six Olympic boroughs over a 10 year period from the year 2000. Notice how Newham experiences a surge in business robberies around 2005 and then a dramatic drop after 2007. The statistics are from the Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping and its Crime Mapping Data Tables.
But what’s behind the fall?
A key part of the winning bid was an emphasis on the social benefits of sport. In the run up to the bid almost £1m of government money was spent encouraging young east Londoners to engage in different sports. Over 64,000 young people took part in 26 different Olympic activities including fencing, swimming, gymnastics and boxing. Olympic ‘Gold Cards’ allowed young people to gain access to Newham’s four leisure centres.
And in 2005, the year of the winning bid, the number of young people in the borough making a first court appearance dropped by a quarter. This compared with a mere 1% reduction in other parts of London. Overall the figures for juvenile court appearances in Newham were down by just under 40%.
So it appears that promoting sport has had a beneficial by-product – it may have caused a dramatic reduction in Newham’s crime figures.
But Andrew Stanley has another more direct theory. He believes the drop in business robberies is down to the increase in policing and security in the area around the Olympic Site:
Security continues to beef up as the event itself approaches
Up to 12,000 police will be dedicated to policing on the busiest days of the Games, and about 9,500 of those will be in London.
And as the event itself looms large on the horizon, Chris Allison, the Met Police’s assistant commissioner and national Olympic security co-ordinator, successfully secured an agreement from chief constables around the country to postpone cuts to certain key areas such as firearms, explosive detector dogs, mounted police until after the Games.
But those reductions will be phased in after the Games. So will the borough of Newham continue to enjoy a drop in crime rates when the party has left town?