SUN Columnist Judge Rinder was mugged on Wednesday night by a gang of three young men who stole his phone before speeding away on their bikes.
Now, the TV personality and top law expert shares his fears on Britain’s increasingly lawless streets – and why it’s more important than ever to support the police.
He says: “The three boys on bikes – dressed all in black and with balaclavas covering their faces – seemed to come out of nowhere.
I was walking along Finchley Road in North London on Wednesday evening, just about to email my editor at The Sun with my column for this weekend.
Then the gang suddenly appeared and grabbed the phone right out of my hands.
Horrified, I shouted at them to drop it – having first considered yelling for them to hit “send” on the email so I wouldn’t have to rewrite the column – but they just laughed and sped away.
I was – and am – furious. But I also know I am unbelievably privileged.
My phone is insured, and will be replaced today. Many, many others are not so lucky.
Phone theft is rising in London and in other British cities.
The most recent data shows that 325,000 people had their mobile stolen last year – and that’s just the people who reported it.
I heard that I was the fifth person in a small radius who had their phone stolen on the same evening.
But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
In the lockdown, when we are more reliant than ever on our phones, having yours stolen could mean you’re cut off from family, friends, your employer and more.
And if you are not insured – as many aren’t – having to replace your handset could also be a financial disaster.
Phone mugging is a symptom of wider lawlessness on our streets.
The perpetrators get away with it with impunity, and anyone who uses their phone in public runs the risk that it could happen to them.
Which leads you to ask – why is this mayhem happening?
Now, I’m no bleeding heart. Muggers should go to prison, full stop.
But I also have an overwhelming sense of sadness for these young boys who nicked my phone.
This is not some handwringing excuse, I do not think “poor darlings” – that ain’t it.
After decades of practising the law I know they are at the beginning of a criminal journey which starts with phones and ends in drugs, violence and potentially murder.
Last night, there was no body count. But until the police can get a grip on this small part of organised gang activity, they have no chance of eliminating the wider problems.
The young, hardworking police officers who took my statement at the end of a tough shift could not have been more professional or helpful.
I have nothing but respect for our brave men and women who dedicate their life to service and keeping the public safe.
But they have little chance of catching my assailants – and that’s not their fault.
Any police officer will tell you that they are working to maximum capacity with minimal resources.
We all know there are not enough police on the streets. And that’s because they are not properly resourced.
The police want to be part of the solution.
Most police officers sign up because they want to serve their communities and protect the most vulnerable.
The Met today has more ethnic and gender diversity than ever before – all credit to the leadership of police commissioner Cressida Dick.
She is the sort of old fashioned leader who takes responsibility for all that happens on her watch – unlike many politicians, who will run for cover and seek to blame others the moment the public doesn’t like what they see.
We rarely celebrate the police’s triumphs – we only ever see them in the news when something goes wrong.
But for every failure, there are thousands more successes.
Imagine the effect on morale knowing that the only time anyone will pay attention to you is when a mistake is made.
We need to empower the police to work with the communities they serve, and that means more numbers, more training, more money and more respect.
It really bothers me when we hear a vocal minority of comfortable, so-called liberals demanding we “defund the police” from their ivory towers.
The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be the victim of crime, so the more you need the police.
What we need is proper leadership – communities working with police to call out the problems rather than focusing on side issues which are of little help.
We need to get young men like my muggers off the streets and into work.
And we need to champion, train and resource our brave police officers – so they can work with the vast majority of law abiding citizens to keep them safe.
I lost a phone this week. In the grand scheme of things, it is not a big deal.
But what it represents, is.
It means that simply walking down the street could result in calamity – and the worse off you are, the more likely this is to be the case.
And it means that three young lads are on a path that most likely won’t end with a phone.
I’ve known boys like them before – I worked with them when I was a criminal barrister.
SHOP A LOAD
Shops to open until 10PM for six days a week when lockdown ends
Tories accuse EU of having ‘no respect for law’ over vaccine export ban threats
WHERE R WE?
Official Covid R rate creeps up AGAIN – but still hovers below crucial 1
Bizarre new side effect reported after Covid jabs – all the signs to watch for
Boys forced to stand up in assembly & apologise for RAPES committed by men
Often, they were funny, intelligent and creative. But they would end up in prison, or dead – a great loss to their communities.
If the consequences of nicking a phone are so remote, and the options besides crime so limited, there will be little to persuade boys like this to choose a better path.
Which is why it is in everyone’s interests – including theirs – for the police to have the authority and resource they so desperately need.”