Girls banned from Camden by court order

Court order and ankle tags are used to run teenage thieves out of town

Friday, 21st May 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Hampstead underground station

TWO teenage girls who targeted women in a series of violent robberies have been banned from setting foot inside Camden for 12 months by a court order.

The Asbo-style rules mean the 16 and 17-year-olds, who cannot be named due to their age, will wear tags and must not go further than three miles away from their homes.

Details of their rehabilitation orders were confirmed on Monday and follows a series of muggings in Swiss Cottage and Hampstead village.

In a period of about two hours on March 23 this year, the teens carried out robberies on four different women.

They are said to have planned the attacks, each time pretending to be lost to convince the unsuspecting women to stop and help them. Each victim was then punched and kicked and then either robbed of their cash or forced to withdraw money from a nearby cash machine.

The first of the incidents happened as the victim was walking towards Swiss Cottage station along Belsize Road. One of the girls asked the woman if she would look up an address she was trying to find on her phone.

Her accomplice then grabbed the phone. The first girl then threatened the victim and demanded she hand over her bank card. The victim gave them a £10 note before running away from the pair. A nearby food delivery driver helped the victim call police and get her phone and money back from the two girls after he saw the incident unfold.

The second robbery happened in Heath Street, Hampstead, near to the junction with Holly Bush Vale. The defendants used the same routine on two women coming out of a supermarket. As one of the women typed a postcode into her phone, she became aware of the girls standing close to her. She later had her phone snatched and was later threatened with a glass bottle after trying to get away.

In a third attack, in Flask Walk, a woman who had been targeted quickly became suspicious of the pair and refused to help them. But as she tried to walk away the girls grabbed her rucksack and pulled her back, punching her then pushing her up against a wall.

They then rifled through her bag, took two bank cards then made the victim go with them to a cashpoint in Hampstead High Street demanding she withdraw £600. The victim said she did not have that much and instead handed over £40.

The pair also took £5 from her purse. The victim went to a supermarket in Heath Street where she saw a group of women – the previous robbery victims, and they realised that the same thing had happened to each of them. They spotted the girls in the distance outside Hampstead tube station attacking a woman who was on the ground and they called police.

The fourth victim had tried helping the girls and they snatched the phone out of her hand and pushed her on the ground where they carried on beating her while passers-by tried to stop the assault. Officers from the Metropolitan Police service’s Venice investigations team, known for tackling motorcycle-enabled crime, tracked down the two teenagers using CCTV footage and witness statements.

On Tuesday April 20 they were arrested at separate houses in East Finchley and Hendon and they were charged the next day. They both pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery at Highbury Magistrates’ Court.

At Willesden Youth Court, on May 12, they were sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision. They will be subject to electronic monitoring and a curfew for six months, as well as the bans on leaving their local area. They are also banned from entering the London borough of Camden and from having contact with each other for 12 months.

Detective Sergeant Alan Biggs said: “These two teenage girls systematically targeted women, threatening and attacking them in an effort to rob them. They planned their crimes to take advantage of the good nature of women who thought they were helping two lost teenage girls.”

He added: “I want to pay tribute to the victims in this case, particularly for the support that they showed for each other. I also want to commend the passers-by who intervened in these incidents for their brave actions.”

If the girls are found in Camden, they could be arrested and returned to court for breaching their orders.

Camden once had the highest use of banning orders sparking a debate over whether barring people from area could work. More commonly, they were used against a series of drug addicts, street beggars and prostitutes in Camden Town and King’s Cross. Critics compared the measures to “Wild West” sanctions and a breach of human rights, but supporters say the orders take offenders away from the areas where they are most likely to cause harm and distress.

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