Moped gangs armed with machetes terrorise public near Prince George's new school

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Moped gangs armed with machetes have been terrorising the public just yards from Prince George's future primary school, with locals accusing police of failing to tackle the threat for several months.

Residents in Battersea, south west London, said they had seen men on bikes waving the weapons as they sped through pedestrianised areas near the £6,110-a-year day Thomas's Battersea school, which the young royal is due to attend from September.

Several of the incidents were said to have taken place during broad daylight, with pictures and footage obtained by the Press Association showing the bikers threatening passers-by, and weaving in and out of tables at nearby restaurants.

"There are break-ins every night, residents are being terrorised every other day either by riding on pavements or at people," said one local, who was too scared of repercussions to be identified.

"When police are called their response is 'there's nothing we can do'."

CCTV footage gathered by business website LondonLovesBusiness.com shows one incident where thieves on a motorbike tried to kick a member of the public off their bicycle before breaking in to a car directly outside the school on Battersea High Street.



Witnesses said men on pushbikes later returned to the scene "to gloat", pointing their fingers in a shooting gesture at members of the public who were waiting for police.

Police attended the aftermath of the incident in Battersea, on the evening of Tuesday May 2, but locals say this is just the latest in a crime spree committed on the doorstep of the school.

The riders, who are believed to live locally, regularly wear balaclavas and appear dressed all in black.

The vehicle licence plates are often blacked out or ripped off, said residents, leading them to believe the vehicles themselves had been stolen.

Locals also reported regularly seeing motorcyclists mounting the kerb at Battersea Square and "weaving in and out of the tables and chairs" of bars and restaurants.

Passengers on the bikes have wielded machetes in an apparent attempt to intimidate members of the public on multiple occasions, said one local business owner.

"The police don't chase them so it's almost a licence to commit crime," said another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of being identified by the gang.

"They feel like they can get away with anything."

Residents and workers in Battersea Square say they have reported the armed gangs to police on multiple occasions over recent months but no action has been taken.

The area is popular among locals for its bars and cafes and is nicknamed "nappy valley" for its number of local schools and young families.

"If they're allowed to keep getting away with it then something horrible will happen," claimed another resident who again declined to be identified.

A staff member at a local business said they had previously heard "what sounded like gunshots" in the street near the school, while another claimed they had seen people in balaclavas "shooting at a cash register or strong box".

Inspector Guy Osborne, of the Battersea Safer Neighbourhoods Team, told the Press Association that Wandsworth Police are "very aware" of moped-enabled crime, and called the issue "a borough priority".

Mr Osborne added: "Crime Prevention advice is being given to the public through social media and by holding open days with the council specifically aimed at moped crime.

"Police are working with moped manufacturers so they are being made more difficult to steal."

Mr Osborne said incidents involving weapons had not been reported to the police.

The reports of heightened moped crime in Battersea come during a spate of violent knife crime in the area, including three murders in a matter of weeks.

One such killing, of 21 year-old Malachi Brooks on March 28, occurred on Surrey Lane, a few hundred metres from Thomas's dchool on Battersea High Street. Bikers are regularly seen racing through the pedestrian lanes that connect the two roads.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council stressed the local authority's investment in CCTV as a deterrent to crime, adding that the council "is working closely with the Met to tackle the growing problem of moped-related crime, which is a London-wide issue".

A spokesman said: "Wandsworth is inner London's safest borough but it is important when community concerns are raised that the police and local authority work together to address these concerns and take the appropriate action to reassure local residents and businesses."

Staff and officials at Thomas's declined to comment on the moped incidents or on any security measures being put in place.

Separately, the Metropolitan Police on Monday announced a third arrest in connection with a series of recent moped-enabled robberies in Westminster and Camden.

On Friday, bikers were photographed speeding through central London, with pillion passengers pictured wielding a hammer and a crowbar and reportedly threatening pedestrians and trying to steal mobile phones.

And on Sunday, moped drivers mounted pavements near Hyde Park and mowed down a tourist in an apparent attempt to steal valuables, breaking his leg in the process.

Crime involving mopeds in London increased by over 600 per cent between 2014 and 2016, figures reported by BBC London in December showed.

The borough of Wandsworth has the highest reported incidents of motorcycle theft in the capital, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

In January, police arrested 13 people in north London in connection with "smash and grab" scooter gangs, but concerned residents south of the river fear the same problems are not being addressed in their area.

Mr Osborne asked anyone who may have information on the Battersea moped incidents which may help police with their inquiries to call 101, or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.