More CCTV cameras on London tourist hotspot demanded to crack down on pickpockets

Police responding to an incident outside Queensway station (Rachael Burford)
Police responding to an incident outside Queensway station (Rachael Burford)

A councillor has demanded improved CCTV coverage and police patrols on a west London tourist street after she was targeted by pickpockets.

Laila Cunningham said criminals were circling the Queensway area and preying on victims.

The Westminster City councillor said businesses, tourists and families were being targeted by a group of pickpockets.

Mrs Cunningham told the BBC she was confronted by a pickpocket last week - a man she said also tried to steak from a female tourist.

The councillor who has six children said she was also targeted a month ago while out walking with her baby.

She said: "I felt someone come by from behind. I was walking my baby when I caught him. I stopped and, in what was probably a stupid idea, confronted him and chased him away."

Calling for more CCTV cameras and police patrols in the area the councillor claimed pickpockets were circulating "with impunity targeting vulnerable groups".

Local businesses also told the BBC the area was on high alert for pick pockets.

Tesco Express duty manager Ala Remiszewsky said: "Every single day someone comes in saying their phone has been stolen.”

Callum Kirwin, 21, a supervisor at the Prince Alfred said thefts take place "every single day".

He said pickpockets operate in pairs with one distracting the victim by showing them what appeared to be a menu, while a second grabbed the victim's mobile phone from the table.

Supt Beth Pirie, responsible for neighbourhood policing in Westminster, said: "We understand the concern this causes for those who live and work nearby.

"We have a dedicated Police Constable and Police Community Support Officers attached to the Bayswater area who regularly carry out patrols in order to deter criminals and provide community reassurance."

Deputy council leader Aicha Less said the council has been working with local police to tackle the issue but as a local authority, it had limited powers for enforcement.

The Met said it has recently carried out undercover operations in the area as well as deploying uniformed patrols.