Locals in Lambeth’s most dangerous area say petty crime is so bad thieves blatantly steal things in front of shop staff. Bishop’s Ward recorded 3,572 crimes between February 2021 and 2022. It’s a neighbourhood which stretches from Waterloo in the north to the London Eye in the south.
Apartments on Belvedere Road in the area have sold for just under £1 million as recently as 2020. But statistics show the plush part of central London has higher crime levels than poorer neighbourhoods like Brixton. A total of 2,881 crimes were registered in Brixton’s Coldharbour Ward in the 12 months from February 2021 – almost 700 less than in Bishop’s Ward.
Andreas Pattichis, 54, who works at cobblers Le Premier Shoe Care in the area, said he wasn’t surprised by the figures. He recently witnessed someone try to steal a suitcase right in front of him in the shop. He said: “Someone walked off with a suitcase. I had to grab it back off them. The person is not allowed to come back to the area but they are always stealing things around here. There are lots of estates here so it doesn’t surprise me crime is so high.”
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(Image: Robert Firth)
Resident Alice D said she had her purse stolen by a passing cyclist while out walking The Cut near The Old Vic. She said: “It’s the road to Southwark station. It’s not a route many people drive down. I think a cyclist snatched it. I had lots of things in my hand and it was suddenly gone. I realised about 10 minutes after it happened. Somebody found it in Rotherhithe but I’d cancelled all my cards already.”
The 30-year-old added she was glad the nights were getting lighter because she could walk her dog along back streets she avoided in winter months. She said: “I’ve never felt unsafe or felt like I was in an unsafe situation but I’m thankful the days are getting longer because I wouldn’t come down here after dark. I think a big thing at the moment is dog thefts. I’m going to a community dog park now and we’ve had notices of dogs going missing and being stolen.”
But Waterloo resident Carla Cardosa said she felt safe in the area and was happy to let her kids play outside alone. The 41-year-old said: “It’s quite safe here. I don’t hear anything about crime. My kids run up and down outside and I’m not scared, I’m happy. I know there’s knife and gun crime in the area but I can’t hear anything from here. It’s a safe area to live [in].”
There were 716 more crimes reported in Bishop’s Ward between 2021 and 2022 than the previous year. Lambeth Council documents say the area was thought to have the highest crime in the borough because of the large number of people who pass through the South Bank by the River Thames and Waterloo Station.