By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Rich tourists from the Middle East are being tailed and threatened with violence in Westminster by criminals but are too frightened to tell the police, it has been claimed.
The spike in crime happens during the summer months when the Edgware Road sees a rise in the number of visitors from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The revelation comes from Westminster Councillor Ian Rowley who has got to know some of the visitors over the years and said they were terrified.
He said he knew of three serious attacks in Edgware Road and said the problem had developed over the past five years.
He said some of the victims had been visiting London for several years but have told him the situation has worsened.
Cllr Rowley said one visitor who stays near Edgware Road will take black cabs everywhere for fear of falling prey to robbers.
Councillor Rowley said: “People are being robbed of watches and handbags – luxury items – and phones.”
He said criminals were “tracking people from the Gulf. They are being followed, it is very scary”.
One woman was “smashed in the face” and hit on the floor as her handbag, containing cash and a phone, were stolen. Her brother was robbed at knifepoint, added Cllr Rowley.
But he said the crimes were under-reported as the victims were too scared to tell the police.
“The crime that is happening there is very serious,” he said.
He raised the issue at Westminster council’s audit and performance committee which considered a report into crimes the police were told about.
Chief Superintendent Helen Harper said: “My priority is absolutely bringing down violent crime.”
She said her team was sharing information with the serious crime unit.
“They very definitely have Edgware Road on their radar.”
Following the murder of a 17-year-old in Edgware Road last September police stepped up their work with community groups to build up links.
She added: “We need to work harder to get people to get people to tell us what’s happening.”
Chief Supt Harper said: “It’s really concerning” to hear about these serious cases which are not being reported.
Pictured: Rich foreign tourists are being targeted in Westminster, and areas like Piccadilly Circus, according to a councillor (Picture: Pharaoh_EZYPT/Pixabay).