• Business leader Devin Narang raised fears about soaring crime in the UK capital
  • He warned Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy at a summit 

Indian chief executives are feeling too scared to visit London in case they are hit by Mayfair Rolex robbers as Britain and New Delhi haggle over a post-Brexit trade deal.

Business leader Devin Narang has raised concerns about crime levels in the UK capital putting off potential investors – especially watch thefts in upmarket areas.

The renewable energy entrepreneur used a visit by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy to warn about CEOs’ increasing fears about Britain.

Mr Narang said: ‘People are being mugged in the heart of London, in Mayfair – all CEOs in India have had an experience of physical mugging and the police not responding.’ 

The warning came as British and Indian officials continue to deliberate over a long-delayed new trade deal following the UK’s 2016 decision to quit the European Union.

Plain-clothed Metropolitan Police officers posed as victims to catch watch thieves in London

Plain-clothed Metropolitan Police officers posed as victims to catch watch thieves in London

Business leader Devin Narang has warned of Indian CEOs' fears about crime levels in the UK

Business leader Devin Narang has warned of Indian CEOs’ fears about crime levels in the UK

Footage of a watch robbery sting was revealed last month with street crime in the capital rising

Footage of a watch robbery sting was revealed last month with street crime in the capital rising

Mr Lammy has been in India’s capital New Delhi for talks and held a meeting with leading businesspeople, where the crime fears were raised yesterday.

London’s street crime epidemic last year saw ‘theft from a person’ offences – which includes stealing watches, handbags and mobile phones – soar by 27 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

Metropolitan Police figures show there were 72,756 of those crimes reported in the year to 2023, up from 57,468 in 2022.

And London’s Westminster district – which includes well-heeled Mayfair – saw such crimes leap by an above-average 40 per cent, with 25,650 rather than 18,310. 

Moped and e-bike gangs have been identified as prolific culprits.

Mr Narang told the Financial Times: ‘Indians do carry expensive things, but the police not responding is a matter of concern.

‘London is a walking city – you don’t want to look over your shoulder all the time. You don’t want to go to a city where you’re likely to be mugged in the streets.

‘It doesn’t make you feel comfortable. You can walk anywhere in Delhi and you won’t be mugged.’

He claimed the police were often uninterested in such crimes or were slow to respond.

A spokesperson for London mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘The Met have stepped up their response to robberies – which are rising nationally – and have specialist teams out proactively targeting the most prolific offenders and robbery hotspots.’

Mr Lammy confirmed crime in London were raised several times during his Indian visit – but insisted ‘security and fighting crime’ would be key priorities for Labour.

Downing Street has said bilateral trade deal talks between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his India counterpart Narendra Modi were moving ‘at pace’.

Previous hold-ups are said to have involved concerns over the number of UK working visas given to Indians and the British car industry’s access to India’s market.

There were more than 300 watches stolen in the West End alone worth a total of nearly £4million in the six months to October 2022.

In April that year former British boxing champion Amir Khan was accosted by a gunman who made off with his custom-made £72,000 watch as he left a restaurant in east London.

And last July a machete-wielding teenager also targeted broadcaster and former chorister Aled Jones, taking his £17,000 Rolex.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary David Lammy was challenged over London's street crime levels during a meeting with businesspeople in India's capital New Delhi

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy was challenged over London’s street crime levels during a meeting with businesspeople in India’s capital New Delhi

A spokesman for London's mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) said the Metropolitan Police had 'stepped up their response to robberies'

A spokesman for London’s mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) said the Metropolitan Police had ‘stepped up their response to robberies’

Scotland Yard revealed last month how a squad of undercover officers posing as victims carried out an unprecedented sting to capture the so-called Rolex Rippers responsible for a spate of violent watch muggings across the capital. 

Plain-clothed officers volunteered to go out wearing valuable timepieces after analysis showed thieves tend to target well-heeled victims leaving pubs and clubs between 11pm and 4am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Soho, also part of the Westminster district.

Over two operations, which ran from October 2022 to December 2022 and March 2023 to October 2023, 27 people were arrested and subsequently charged. 

Of these, 21 were convicted – with 14 sentenced to a total of 26 years in prison. 

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