With Halloween and Bonfire Night approaching, the Met has today, Friday, 21 October launched its seasonal crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour and associated crime.
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) can blight the lives of communities - this does typically increase around the period of half term, Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Many people, including vulnerable members of society, can be left feeling anxious and concerned at this time of year due to uninvited trick or treating, firework misuse and large crowds. Criminals also exploit the period to commit robbery, theft, burglary and knife related crime.
Although ASB incidents have reduced over the last three years, there is traditionally a rise in ASB incidents around this time of year when the nights draw in. In 2015, the two weeks between Halloween and Bonfire Night saw a 31 percent increase in ASB incidents compared to the preceding fortnight.
London has also had a number of so-called 'Killer clown' incidents in the last few weeks, whereby people dress as clowns - sometimes armed with weapons - in order to scare and intimidate others.
Whilst the number of these incidents which are considered crimes is low, it is important that those who are out and about during Halloween understand that intentionally causing fear, alarm or distress is considered a criminal offence under the public order act.
We will be working closely with our partners to detect and respond to any incidents.
The launch of our seasonal campaign 'Operation Autumn Nights' will see Safer Neighbourhood Officers on all 32 boroughs working in partnership with other agencies to carry out additional reassurance patrols, targeting ASB perpetrators and associated crime.
Officers will plan their operations based on predictive mapping, analysis of current, and past, ASB and crime hot spots to ensure high visibility and plain clothed officers are in the right place at the right time.
These tactics have seen a 37 per cent reduction in ASB calls over the last three years (205,766 fewer incidents) into London to 31 March 2016 and a 33 per cent reduction in ASB repeat callers (4,578 fewer calls) over the same period.
Test purchasing operations regarding the sale of fireworks, alcohol and over the counter weapons will also be taking place. Any proprietors found in breach of licensing laws will be dealt with robustly.
Schools officers have been reiterating safety tips to young people ahead of the festivities to promote personal safety and good citizenship.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be visiting vulnerable residents who can be affected by this period to address any concerns and to offer crime prevention advice.
MPS Safer Transport Command (STC), in partnership with Transport for London (TfL), will also be carrying out increased high visibility patrols to prevent disorder on buses and at transport hubs across London.
STC officers will be using this opportunity to engage with young people when they are out enjoying the Halloween and Bonfire period reassuring them and providing travel safety advice, as well as educating them on the importance of respecting their fellow passengers when travelling on London's transport network.
Chief Superintendent Jason Gwillim, said: "We are here for London and to help make sure that everyone can enjoy the festivities and stay safe.
"All 32 London boroughs have a local plan in place, drawing together experience and successful tactics from previous years as well as managing planned events in their areas, focusing our resources in the right places and working closely and continually with our partners and communities.
"I would like to stress that our operations are not aimed at demonising young people, the large majority of whom behave safely and responsibly. However those intent on committing crime and anti-social behaviour will face the consequences."
Steve Burton, TfL's Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: "The bus network is a safe, low-crime environment with very few passengers ever experiencing or witnessing crime. As we do throughout the year, we will be working extremely closely with police to ensure those using our services during these celebrations do so safely and with consideration for their fellow passengers."
This Halloween follow these safety tips:
- Don't knock on doors displaying a 'No trick or Treat' sign.
- Always go trick or treating with an adult.
- Plan your route - only go to places where you and your friends know the residents.
- Keep visible - stay in areas that are well lit and take a torch.
- Don't talk to strangers on the street.
- Don't go inside any house.
- Be careful crossing the road.
- Although Halloween is supposed to be spooky, be careful not to frighten vulnerable people.
Remember, remember, on the 5th November:
- You must be over 18 to buy fireworks.
- It is illegal to possess fireworks in a public place if you're under 18.
- It is an offence to throw or let-off a firework in a street or public place.
- If you let off fireworks between 23:00 and 07:00hrs, you will be breaking the law (except on Bonfire Night when it extends to midnight).
- Don't forget your pets; keep them safe indoors.
You must be over 18 to buy fireworks and it is an offence to throw or let-off a firework in a street or public place. Our advice is to go to a publically organised firework display and enjoy the spectacle without the safety concerns of organising your own event.
Keeping your home safe:
- Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.
- Make sure UPVC doors are properly locked with a key.
- Make sure the side and/or back gate is locked.
- Lock your shed or garage
- Make sure that any valuables are out of sight.
- Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.
- Don't leave your car keys or ID documents near doors, windows or your letterbox.