By Daniel Hunter

The Mayor of London has called on the mobile phone industry to help deliver a cost effective technical solution to tackle the blight of phone robberies in the capital.

Whilst London has continued to get safer with overall crime falling by 7 per cent in 2012/13, there has been a troubling increase in the number of incidences of theft from person offences, which in the last year rose by 12 per cent. This rise has been largely driven by mobile phone theft, which accounts for 75 per cent of this offence. Around 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in the capital.

Smartphone theft is a problem that not only impacts London but is a shared concern for police and city governments across the UK and in major world cities including New York, Washington and Amsterdam. Mobile phone theft will be one of the issues under discussion at the first international policing conference convened by the Mayor at City Hall this week, attended by mayors, police chiefs and delegates from 15 major cities from around the world. It is considered that one of the major drivers for the growth of phone robbery is the large cross-border black market in stolen devices involving criminal gangs, who often exploit the poor safeguards for identifying stolen devices and the ease of selling handsets overseas.

The Mayor, Deputy Metropolitan Commissioner Craig Mackey and leaders of the London Crime Reduction Board (LCRB), which has the responsibility for public safety in the capital, have today (8 July) written to all the major UK mobile phone manufacturers and suppliers to express their 'deep concern ' about the rise in person smartphone thefts and asking them to take the problem more seriously. The LCRB believe that smartphone theft needs to be addressed in the same way that the motor industry devised solutions to design out car crime using immobilisers and enhanced security in the Nineties.

The first international conference for city leaders and senior police officers, Policing Global Cites, will take place on 8-9 July at City Hall. Representatives from a range of global cities across six continents will be sharing experiences on how best to address the policing challenges that major cities encounter.

Topics that the two-day event will explore include:

• The pressures and challenges that cities face when they become a key international destination and a focus for major world events
• How policing needs to adapt to social change, the growth of cities and keep pace with technological innovation and new crime threats
• How cities from across the globe can work together to tackle organised crime across borders

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