Following his frightening experience being held up and robbed at gunpoint earlier this week in East London, boxer Amir Khan has branded London “very dangerous” and cancelled his plans to move his family here from Bolton. Following these remarks MyLondon decided to ask the people of Leyton what they thought of the situation, and whether they agreed with Amir, who said he was “very scared” while walking around the capital following the incident.
CCTV of the alleged robbery shows Amir, 35, who had just left a restaurant at around 9.15pm on Monday with his wife Faryal Makhdoom, 30, when said he was rushed by several men, one brandishing a gun. He says the men then stole his diamond encrusted £72,000 watch before running off and getting into a waiting car.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Khan has since said he feels “very scared” and “unsafe” in London because it’s “very dangerous”. Speaking to the people of Leyton it was clear many of them shared his concerns, but others argued actually the same issues affect any big city.
READ MORE: ITV Good Morning Britain: Amir Khan says he’s now ‘scared to walk round London’ after robber held gun to his head
Pushing a pram with her young baby inside, mum Glori, 30, explained that compared to her experiences elsewhere in London, Leyton feels like a safe place to be. She said: “I actually live about 10 minutes away and I think it’s relatively safe around here, obviously I have a young child and I actually think it’s more unsafe where I used to live in West London. I’m originally from Shepherds Bush and people always think you know West London is more upmarket but you get some really scary characters around there especially at night, so I feel safer here.”
Mira van Dam, 37, another mum, was less positive but accepted the risks that come with living in a city, she said: “It is what it is, there’s always a certain level of risk. My sister in law is a police analyst and she told me basically don’t live in Leyton. It’s just London isn’t it.”
Gesturing to her son in the buggy in front of her she continued: “It is scary thinking about when this one is grown up a bit and getting to be a teenager, I think then it’ll be something I’ll be more worried about but I think living in the city is right for us at the moment.”
Others have a bleaker outlook though. Tony, 39, standing at a bus stop near Leyton Station says: “I think London’s very dangerous. Back in my youth… I was shot, I was stabbed, hit by a car. But I think it’s actually been getting worse, kids are out of control there’s no discipline anymore.”
Addressing what happened to Amir Khan he added: “I think obviously he was set up, someone’s waited there for him. But if you’re coming into an area like this wearing a 70k watch – no ones asks for it – but you’re putting yourself at risk.”
Another young couple, James, 30, and Alice, 28 agreed that whilst they feel the area can feel unsafe at times, they see the robbery as linked to the boxer’s wealth and high profile. James said: “It didn’t surprise me when I saw it I can say that, I wouldn’t say we’re scared the same would happen to us, it does feel more targeted obviously with the expensive watch I don’t have anything like that.
He continued: “I don’t think it is safe, Do we feel safe? I don’t know if we do, you wouldn’t walk home from the station alone at night would you?”
“No I wouldn’t.” Alice responds, before James continues: “But it’s London, I think it’s a big city thing.”
According to the statistics violent crime in London is increasing, according to the latest crime figures released by the Mayor of London’s office in January.
According to these stats there were 233,965 offences of ‘violence against the person’ recorded by the Met in 2021 compared to 220,607 in 2020. That’s a rise of 13,358 over the year, or 6.1 per cent.
Following the robbery the Olympic silver medallist placed blame on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for not tackling crime urging him to “pull his finger out”
A spokesman for the Mayor said in a statement: “The mayor is appalled at what happened to Amir Khan and urges anyone with any information to come forward as soon as possible. Overall, crime continues to fall in London, bucking the national trend, with knife crime with injury down by 12 per cent, gun crime down by 29 per cent and burglary down by 22 per cent since May 2016.
“However there’s still a long way to go. Keeping people safe in London remains the Mayor’s number one priority and he is taking action by being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.”
A police statement on the robbery said: “A man aged in his 30s is alleged to have been approached by two males who threatened him with a firearm before stealing his watch and fleeing. There were no reports of any shots fired or any injuries. Police responded and conducted an area search.”
Detective Constable Ben Grix, of the Metropolitan Police’s North East Command burglary and robbery team, said yesterday: “I am today releasing an image of the stolen watch which is a high-value Franck Muller timepiece valued at around £70,000. It is a one-off custom made design and will be easily recognised by anyone it is offered to for sale. If you, or anyone you know is offered the watch at a discounted price please contact us immediately.’
He continued: “If you were driving in the area around High Road, Leyton, at the time of the offence and have dashcam, please do check your footage for anything that might assist our investigation.”
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