The frequency of recent muggings in the St. John’s Wood area has caused ASL to take action. Recent cases of mugging involving members of the ASL community has raised awareness as to the measures that students and other community members must take when travelling around London to ensure the best security and safety.
From February 2018 to February 2019, there were over 910,000 crimes recorded in London according to MyLondon News. This is 20,000 more crimes recorded as compared to the previous year. This is also 150,000 more crimes recorded as compared to the numbers recorded from 2014-2015. There appears to be an upward trend in the numbers from year to year. More and more innocent lives are being threatened and victims are not only physically harmed, there are also mental repercussions as a result of the incidents.
Westminster has one of the highest number of recorded crimes compared to other boroughs in London according to Churchill Security. Located in Westminster, the St. Johns Wood area is a target for crime in London which raises the risk of the ASL community to possible cases of mugging and other forms of crime.
As a result of the school’s vulnerability, the administration has promptly reported recent cases of mugging in the St. John’s Wood area to the ASL community. ASL students have been victimized by perpetrators in the St. John’s Wood neighborhood.
In January, Grade 8 student Gavin Crawford was followed by a boy who appeared out of a side street on Crawford’s way to his boxing class. Convinced that he was going to be mugged, Crawford chatted with the boy, attempting to stall him when another boy approached him, grabbed him, and held him captive. He managed to escape the boy’s grasp and then bolted towards his boxing gym. The boy chased him down to the gym and kicked him into the wall. Crawford’s boxing instructor, however, appeared in time to take control of the situation.
Crawford said, “Although I know this is the wrong thing to do, I regret that I didn’t fight back. It haunts me till this day that the kid got away practically untouched.”
Similarly, Grade 8 student Ruhan Bhasin encountered street crime on his way home from ASL. The incident occurred on the corner of Acacia Road and Kingsmill Terrace, on April 29 at around 3:20 pm.
Bhasin said, “I was walking home from school as two boys who looked like high schoolers approached me. One put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I had anything on me. I told him my headphones and he told me to give them to him. He threatened me by saying he had “something” on him – I assumed he meant a knife. I gave them to him. He ran down the next street, along with the other boy who I thought I recognized.”
Bhasin also reflected on the incident and said, “The only thing I sort of regret is telling the dude what I had, but I was stressed in the moment, and a small part of me wishes I would’ve fought back and not let them command me.”
In all of these cases, the victims were not seriously physically injured; however there may be mental and emotional scars as a result of such an incident.
Street crime cases are treated very seriously both by the school and by the police who are working closely together to ensure the safety of the community. In most cases, the police were informed immediately and investigations were conducted promptly.
ASL is part of the St. John’s Wood Security Committee. The school works and communicates closely with local organizations, in addition to the Metropolitan Police, as they report cases of crime and any information about unusual and suspicious behavior around the St. John’s Wood area that the school is aware of. Additionally, ASL informs the US Embassy of every case of crime to ensure the community receives utmost security attention.
The Metropolitan police has created a robbery squad to take control of crime cases in the St. John’s Wood area. They are now responsible for all the investigations and are working to improve the safety of the St. John’s Wood area.
Although the UK has been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world according to SafeAround, city living necessitates taking caution on the streets.
Head of Security Mr. Roi Yefet recommended that pedestrians should conceal all valuable possessions when on the streets to avoid attracting attention and becoming an easy ‘target.’ He also recommended that people avoid walking after dark and unaccompanied, even though it must be emphasized that these cases can still occur in broad daylight to victims who are accompanied. In most cases, it is best to surrender any possessions to ensure the best safety.
Mr. Yefet said, “My advice to our students is to…stay vigilant and aware at all times. The aim is to keep yourself safe at all time. After the incident, report to the police by dialing 999 immediately, and inform ASL security afterwards.”
Mr. Yefet encourages students to make their way to the nearest shop or public business where they can receive help. A list of safe havens in St. John’s Wood is provided on the ASL website if students ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the St. John’s Wood area. Eradicating mugging all together is impossible, which is why it is vital that people follow the advice of what to do to avoid mugging and what to do when an incident occurs.