Rogues on Westminster Bridge

3 weeks ago (2:18 PM)
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Talk London

Hi Elsie,

Welcome to Talk London. In terms of this specific issue and what can be done as quickly as possible, the best thing to do might be to contact the Metropolitan Police directly here.

Plans are afoot to bring more police officers onto London’s streets and key contact points closer to the public, in places such as libraries, hospitals and council offices, so that you can easily access a police officer when you need to ( Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Policing and Crime plan 2013-2016 – section 3.1). This is part of reforming the back offices to bring more police out onto the front line, with the overall goal of improving efficiency. Would you say this is the way forward?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts,


Talk London Community Manager


Hi Wendy,

The police and council are already working on tackling this issue with additional powers granted by a PSPO:

This is a well known issue that has been going on for years- it is a shame it has taken so long for them to introduce powers to tackle it.

Another problem is the fact that it is left up to individual councils/boroughs to push for these powers so the problem will simply move to another bridge/location that is managed by another council or borough policing unit that hasn't got the processes in place to deal with it yet. Its a constant game of cat and mouse and there seems to be no joined up thinking to tackle this issue across the whole of London rather than just particular parts.


Well, if people are stupid enough to part with their money on a historic scam such as this, they deserve to lose it. Too many of us are expecting the famous 'they' to protect us in every circumstance, thereby diverting responsibility. People need to take responsibility. this has been happening on Westminster Bridge for as long as I can remember - back to the 1960s- so even tourists should be wise to it. It goes on in other capitals as well, not just London.




Hello Elsie, Try going to a Turkish airport and having your luggage picked up by a stranger,and when you protest he aggressively demands money. Or go to Majorca and have a taxi driver try to charge you seven times the correct fare. Or go to Italy with an 88 year old in a wheelchair and try to get help to carry them up the stairs at a train station. Or go to France and have a Brittany flower seller spit at you because your schoolboy o level French makes you sound like a Parissien. I don't think we can be criticised anywhere for the way we treat tourists, and if you were able to check the ethnicity and indeed immigration status of the Find The Lady operators you might get a shock. Nobody wants tourists to have a low opinion of London, but if they are gullible enough to be tempted by their own greed, or just looking for a flutter while on holiday 'Bon chance!' For the record all the above mentioned scenarios happened to me personally and I wasn't at all shocked,just deeply disappointed. I still intend to travel and enjoy the company of the vast majority of pleasant indigenous inhabitants of foreign countries.

John H

These scammers were featured on a recent TV documentary ( can't remember the channel or title...) so the Police are well aware it goes on and from where the main perpetrators come (yes, it was Romania...!).


Scammers are one thing but it is also pickpocketing too.


Lambeth Council have recently approved legislation that will allow them to tackle this in a more coordinated manner. The problem is these people have spotters that will alert them to any approaching police so they can scatter. The punishments are menial and take up a lot of police time, and when they are caught someone else simply replaces them.


Yeah. Also noticed a lot of beggars / mimes who look like illegals / homeless people.

It look scary and uninviting. I saw the same phenomenon in Germany and also in Paris.
Begging has also increased too. Some with a limp, others with a sleeping child.
Why isn't there a home office van to collect these people who are either here illegally or cannot support themselves and sent them to relevant departments for the right welfare or return them to their place of origin.


A sleeping child or a drugged child?


I don't know.
Maybe you're right.
The child is never awake.


Are you kidding? Rounding people up in vans?! Nice.


No ID, get in the van.

They do it all over the world, all you have to do is produce ID / take ID along with you.
Many countries require a photo ID as compulsory (driver's license, student card etc)


I was with you right up until your final sentence, when you referred to fellow human beings as "rats" that you wanted "washed away into the river", which is unacceptable language on this forum.
I'm surprised a moderator hasn't stepped in by now to ask you to edit this deliberately dehumanising and aggressive language.
I agree with everything you said about their fraudulent criminal activity and agree that it should be stopped, but please also remember that even criminals are humans and many of them would not turn to a life of crime if they had a better option.
Few people, given other opportunities, would happily choose fraud as a career path (perhaps Philip Green excepted), so we need to take a holistic look at everything: the root causes of crime, its prevention, deterrence, punishment and justice, not resort to cheap tabloid name-calling please, which doesn't help anyone.


I recently had to attend St Thomas' Hospital and as I walked across Westminster Bridge I could see touts operating one of their many fleecing operations on the bridge. It was a sunny day and there were lots of people around and I remember thinking that this was a poor advert for London - right next to the Houses of Parliament!


This doesn't impact me as a Londoner as I just walk past, if people want to gamble and lose money on the street or in bookies, that is their affair. At a strategic level, the Mayor may want to stop money being earned by gangs, but it's not high on my list of worries I admit. Ironically Westminster Bridge will be within gaze of the new New Scotland Yard, so let's see if this changes


Well really! Is this really an issue. It's just individuals doing what unaccountable large Corporates do every minute of the day.


They are there almost every day, along with various counterparts on Embankment. Given the proximity of both to Westminster it is more than frustrating to see the large numbers of police in the area not bother to do anything about it.


As well as ripping off tourists there are so many of them they block most of the footpath for those wishing to pass. The lookouts are menacing. They are an unsightly view of London that needs to be removed. I think the police have a duty to protect tourists from these people who prey on others. Also Covent Garden is ruined by these "statue men" - get rid.


I agree Elsie; outrageous to see the police can't deal with this at the heart of the capital


where are the Community police clowns when you need them? taking a fat commision, no doubt..



I have seen this dreadful game practice on the high road of Turnipike Lane in the borough of Haringey. Passer-bys naively become intrigued and stop to look and that is when they instantly fall victims. I suppose these devious people seldom get caught because from my own observation there is always one who is on the look out for the police.

Shop Keepers and those responsible of other buildings should a least be made to become more responsible of the area outside their buildings to try and stop just practices. Yes, I know they just move on to somewhere else but limiting the areas they feel they can get up to no good would make it easier for the police (in non uniforms and ordinary cars) to be able to look out for them in the hope that such a practice is put to end soon and for good.