London and New York reaffirm their global crime fighting partnership

12 February 2015

· Mayor and New York Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, visit high-tech intelligence hub as they herald crime progress in both cities

· New York and London leading the fight against 21st century crime with record low homicide rates in 2014 and major turnaround in smartphone theft

· Visit underlines shared commitment to invest in technology to strengthen frontline policing

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and New York Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, have joined together to highlight the progress of both cities in fighting crime.

In 2014 both cities had their best year on homicides since the 1960s. London’s murder total was just 92 in 2014 – half of what it was in 1991, when London had 2 million fewer residents. New York has seen even more dramatic reductions in homicide down from 2,245 in 1992 to 333 last year.

And new figures announced today reveal an unprecedented crime drop in both major cities with the number of smartphone thefts and robberies in London and New York falling dramatically in a year.

Visiting the NYPD’s Lower Manhattan Security Initiative on the fourth day of his trip to the United States, the Mayor and Commissioner Bratton discussed the importance of collaboration in the fight against crime and what steps both cities are taking to guard against terrorism. The Mayor and the Commissioner also discussed how both cities were investing more in new technology to make cops more effective and keep them out in communities.

The Met Police and NYPD pledged to enhance cooperation in the vital area of counter-terrorism during a recent visit in November by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. Collaborative working has already paid dividends in the fight against other emerging everyday crime threats, like smartphone

In 2013 over 51,000 smartphones were stolen in London and similar numbers in New York with a spike in crime driven by street gangs and organised criminals taking advantage of poor safeguards and an increasingly profitable cross-border black market in stolen handsets.

A shared concern for police in many global cities, the Mayor and the Commissioner were at forefront of an international coalition to address this growing problem, using the ‘Secure our Smartphones’ (SOS) initiative to exert pressure on the industry to update default handset security features to protect their customers by making stolen handsets worthless.

Figures released by the two cities today show that this effort, combined with targeted police operations like Operation Ringtone in London, have had a dramatic effect, designing out crime and leading to a massive drop in thefts in both cities.

In London, the number of smartphone thefts have fallen by over 40 per cent - the equivalent to 85 less robberies a day - in the year end to October 2014, meaning over 20,000 fewer victims. A similar drop was recorded by New York City’s Police Department between January 2013 to December 2014, with a 16 percent overall drop in cell phone robberies, and a 25 percent drop in iPhone robberies.

Speaking during a tour of the Security Initiative, the Mayor and the Commissioner emphasised how each city is sharing knowledge that is benefiting the other as they continue to pursue new ways to keep the public safe. London is learning from New York’s pioneering work to create a Domain Awareness System in partnership with private industry, to enhance surveillance and help protect the financial district, and New York is learning from London about police body cameras and reforms to the police estate to reduce running costs and invest in better police facilities.

With many common security concerns the Mayor and Commissioner also discussed the role of new technology in helping the police do their jobs in a 21st century metropolis. New York is currently moving ahead with an ambitious programme to supply all its frontline officers with tablets and smartphones, something that is also now being piloted in London. And in the world’s largest trial of police body cameras being led by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), London is currently testing the impact of 1,000 cameras for response officers, and has been advising the NYPD on their own plans to equip more patrol officers with body cameras.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: “London and New York are two great global cities that have become much safer in the last twenty years and policing has played a major role in that turnaround. Our two police departments are solid partners who are working closely together to build on this impressive record.

“London and New York face similar security challenges in keeping 8 million residents safe and despite the crime drops we’ve seen, both cities have growing populations and complex threats to confront. But they also share a story of success – including the recent triumph in tackling smartphone theft, which was plaguing both cities just two years ago.

“Wherever we can, we should look to work with other global cities to tackle those crimes that do not recognise borders and share intelligence on those people who wish to cause us harm. This visit has allowed us both to reaffirm our commitment to collaborate and make our two cities even safer in the years ahead.”

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: "Crime and terrorism often ignore geographical boundaries and jurisdictions. Effectively combating these common problems requires seamless collaboration among law enforcement on a global level. The NYPD has established strong ties with our London partners in sharing investigative strategies, intelligence and technological approaches to the on-going threats that face both of our cities. The accomplishments highlighted here today attest to the success of our joint efforts."

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh said: “Both London and New York are much safer cities than they were even ten years ago, and that is a tribute to the professional efforts of the police in both cities, and also to the way technology has been harnessed to prevent crime and make cities safer. As our cities grow and new crime threats emerge, we must continue to collaborate with each other and share ideas so we can enjoy another decade of sustained crime reduction, which is the foundation for the growth and prosperity we all value.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe said: “Relationships with other great cities such as New York are invaluable. Criminals and terrorists pay no attention to international borders so we must be as flexible as they are.

"London's murder rate is at a record low and I am really proud about the way we have tackled problems head on such as mobile phone theft and gangs. There is no doubt we can learn from each other's successes and join together to fight those who want to do us harm."

Notes to editors

  • The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is leading a trade mission to America's East Coast aimed at strengthening economic and cultural ties between London and the United States.
  • During the six day visit the Mayor will meet with senior public officials and top business leaders in Boston, New York City and Washington, in a bid to ensure that London remains a key destination for US investment and American tourists and students. The Mayor wants to build on the warm relations that already exist with the States and to consolidate healthy collaborations between London and these three major cities.
  • In 2014 overall crime fell by 4.4% in New York and 2.2% in London down (compared to November 2013)
  • In 2014 both cities had their best year on homicides since the 1960s. London’s murder total was just 92 in 2014 – half of what it was in 1991, when London had 2 million fewer residents. New York has seen even more dramatic reductions in homicide – down from 2,245 in 1992 to 333 last year. To see crime figures for London visit http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/ for New York figures visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/crime_prevention/crime_statistics.shtml
  • The Mayor, mobile phone manufacturers and the Met Police have worked in partnership to drastically reduce the number of mobile phone thefts in London. Working with the Cabinet Office the Met published the Phone Harm Index highlighting the devices most attractive to criminals and clarity on who was being targeted, when and why and through Operation Ringtone used plain clothes officers and specialist teams to target theft hotspots around some transport hubs and music venues.
  • Security features were updated by one major supplier in September 2013 and others soon followed, and in the subsequent year, thefts of smartphones in London and robberies of smartphones were down by more than forty per cent – meaning over 20,000 fewer victims.
  • In the year to the end of September 2013 there were 51,530 thefts and robberies involving a smartphone in London – roughly 140 every day – and the majority of these crimes involved Apple phones. The following year, from October 2013 (the first full month after the release of Activation lock) until October 2014, the number of phones stolen had reduced to 31,297 – or 85 a day, meaning over 20,000 fewer victims that year. The monthly average for the number of phones stolen in London has more than halved since August 2013 and ranks as one of the largest annual drops in a single crime type ever recorded and it is a tribute to the hard work of the Met Police and the responsible approach taken by smartphone manufacturers

 

Theft Person

Personal Robbery

Total

Oct12 – Sep 13

35,553

15,977

51,530

Oct13 – Sep14

21,400

9,897

31,297

Change

-14,153

-6,080

-20,233

Percent Change

-39.81%

-38.05%

 

  • New York, which employed similar tactics to London, also saw a major reduction in phone theft over the same period. From January 2013 to December 2014, New York City’s Police Department recorded a 16% overall drop in cell phone robberies, and a 25% drop in iPhone robberies.
  • The Mayor joined the international Secure our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative in August 2013.
  • The same month he hosted a meeting with the CEO’s of all domestic phone manufacturers. Shortly afterwards several manufacturers introduced a ‘kill switch’ making stolen mobile phones far less attractive to criminals.
  • The Met’s Total Technology strategy 2014-17 sets the direction for an unprecedented investment in technology in London’s police force - up to £200m over three years. It will cut ongoing IT costs by 30% and includes the roll-out of mobile technology to frontline officers and a pilot of 1,000 body-worn cameras.
  • A one-year pilot of 1,000 body-worn cameras was launched by the Met Police in May 2013. The results of this trial will determine how best they can be deployed on a wider scale in the future.