Police tackle Oxford Street crime

Oxford Street police are fighting back in the£1 billion retail crime battle, with initiatives designed to purge the UK's busiest high street of drug dealers and 'latter-day Fagins'.

Police launched a fresh campaign to rid the street of drug dealers, who congregate east of Oxford Circus. In the latest phase of Operation Methane, plain-clothes officers with sniffer dogs will patrol to flush out drug-related activity.

Inspector Colin Carswell said intelligence suggested criminals were returning after an April purge. 'It is enough for us to mount another operation to make sure it doesn't re-establish itself,' he said.

Carswell added that crime on Oxford Street was 'very firmly' down, with robberies and bag thefts falling 67 per cent and 15 per cent respectively since April.

Officers are collaborating with the British Transport Police and immigration services on Operation Golf, in an effort to stymie Eastern European gangs who use children like 'latter-day Fagins. 'The gangs made a 'significant contribution' to the 2,000 bag-snatching incidents recorded over the past six months.

Findings of the BRC's annual crime survey, announced this week, revealed an encouraging national trend. Total losses from retail crime fell£700 million last year to£1 billion. The BRC credited retailers, rather than police, with effecting the change, after spending an extra£420 million on security.