East Sheen teacher criticises police response to suspected arson attack on his motorbike

A teacher living in East Sheen has criticised police for not attending when they were called to an arson attack on his motorbike.

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Hugo Lawrence, 52, said he was not “reassured” after police never turned up following the incident outside his home.

He was alerted by a neighbour that his bike and some bins had been set alight, moments before he saw the damage himself on Sunday (July 14).

A neighbour told him they believed the fire was started deliberately, referring to a group of three teenage boys who had been seen walking down the road at the time of the incident.

Mr Lawrence said: “I was watching the world cup final when I was alerted by a neighbour to say the street is on fire.

“All three of my kids were in tears as they saw my bike burning – apparently the boys that did this to my bike were seen walking around the area with petrol in a bottle, almost looking to start something.”

Both the police and fire services were called to the incident, but only the fire service attended to put the fire out and left after reportedly waiting for the police for two hours.

Mr Lawrence added: “I did receive a text from the police asking me to dial 101 but – as a teacher, I want to feel reassured by the police.

“East Sheen is a quiet, peaceful area with low levels of crime and these kids are coming here looking for trouble because they know the police will not do anything.”

Statistics from Police.UK suggest vehicle crime was the most committed crime in East Sheen as a total of 201 offences were committed between June 2018 and May 2019, and accounted for 26.69 percent of crime committed in the area.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Emergency services were called at around 6.30pm on Sunday, July 14 to a motorcycle on fire in Martindale Road, SW14.

“London Fire Brigade attended and put out the fire. A police investigation is underway to establish the circumstances. There has been no arrest at this stage.

“Regrettably, we are not able to provide an immediate response to every request for police. Calls are prioritised based on factors including whether suspects are on premises, immediate danger to the public, vulnerability of victim and so on.”

Mr Lawrence now has to pay a private company £350 to remove the motorbike after Richmond Council informed him that the damaged vehicle was not their responsibility.

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