The news that singer Aled Jones was robbed of his Rolex by a machete-wielding youngster in London brought back unpleasant memories, says Sarah Vine in The Mail on Sunday. Last year, when my son popped to the Sainsbury’s on Chiswick High Road, he was accosted by “two kids with large knives” and forced to hand over his phone and scooter. The robbers were dressed head-to-toe in black leisure wear – the standard uniform for the gangs of so-called “roadmen” who scavenge London and are becoming “increasingly emboldened”. Chiswick, with its “middle-class streets and trusting, liberal-minded inhabitants”, is fertile hunting ground. There have been several other muggings at knifepoint, and even some stabbings, within a half-mile radius of our house. “London’s law-abiding citizens are under siege.”
The police are powerless. In our case, despite the fact that we can track my son’s device via Find My iPhone, there still haven’t been any arrests. These aren’t just “random scrotes”: they’re well-organised gangs with command chains, who recruit 13 and 14-year-olds to do the robbing knowing that, because they’re kids, there’s little the police can do to them. And since the Covid lockdowns, when thousands of vulnerable youngsters fell out of full-time education, the gangsters have had a steady stream of recruits with “no qualifications, no skills and no prospects”. Sadiq Khan should realise there are more important issues to address than his “hated ULEZ expansion”: our “vibrant capital” is turning into a “dystopian playground for violent criminals”. I have lived in London for three decades, and can “honestly say I’ve never felt so unsafe”.