Two boys charged over string of knifepoint robberies of cyclists on River Lea towpath in Clapton

PUBLISHED: 11:47 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 09 December 2019

A file image of the River Lea. Picture: Dan Atrill/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

A file image of the River Lea. Picture: Dan Atrill/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0


Two boys have been charged over a string of knifepoint robberies of cyclists on the River Lea towpath last week.

Police flooded the area after six people were targeted within hours on Wednesday night, when due to fog there were visibility problems for commuters.

The youths have both been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and threatening a person with a blade or sharp article.

Police have now stepped up patrols on the towpath, and have asked the police helicopter to carry out regular flyovers.

Hackney police told the Gazette: "Towpaths are notoriously dangerous in general due to pinch points, low lighting and little CCTV, as well as being difficult for police to patrol effectively.

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"We had a series of robbery over the summer but it had quietened down there recently, until these six fairly violent robberies on commuters on bicycles by suspects appearing out of the thick fog armed with knives.

"One of the victims was even an off duty police officer. It went on for a couple of hours despite the robbery task force attendance on bicycles, the police helicopter doing a flyover of the area affected and other marked vehicles doing general patrols."

Police have now warned people to be careful if they choose to use the towpath.

They said: "It's obviously down to the public whether they use the towpaths and I wouldn't want to discourage, however common sense should be used and if it doesn't feel safe because of low visibility or poor lighting, then our suggestion would be to use well lit routes.

"We continue our patrols on unmarked bicycles and have asked the police helicopter to conduct regular patrols."

The towpath is notorious for muggings. Earlier this year the Gazette spoke to boaters on the Lea who set up a group to patrol the towpath themselves after a spate of terrifying knifepoint robberies.

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