There is something of a hole developing in Susan Hall's pickpocket story. The Conservative candidate for mayor claimed earlier in the week that she had her wallet stolen after a 'shove' on the Metropolitan line. Hall went on to tell LBC's Nick Ferrari that the incident was testament to Sadiq Khan’s “out of control” London.
It now transpires that a member of the public returned the wallet to her – replete with cash and cards – after finding it on the Tube. Which would appear to cast doubt on a case of straightforward theft.
Now, Hall suggested the coat she wears has "very, very deep pockets". But with typical fastidious care, Londoner's Diary has done some digging and found evidence to the contrary. In a picture taken the day before the alleged theft, Hall posted a picture to X, formerly known as Twitter, with her phone quite clearly protruding out of her "distinctly shallow" coat pocket.
Such are the perils of campaigning by anecdote (the greatest example in modern political history remains this one by David Cameron about a Cornish pasty and Leeds train station). But Hall really only needed to wait a couple more days for the hard data.
As our City Hall and Transport Editor Ross Lydall reports, crime on London's transport network has soared. Across all TfL services, reported crime rose by 30 per cent between April and September this year, from 17,160 to 22,294 offences.
That figure jumps to 56 per cent on the Tube, fuelled by a massive increase in thefts and robberies. By the way, this is on top of the 45 per cent jump in crime in 2022-23, driven in part by the post-Covid return of passengers. TfL’s crime report also reveals there has been a 50 per cent increase in violence and aggression against Tube staff
The worst-affected line is the Northern line, where crime more than doubled, followed by the Jubilee line. In terms of stations, tourist and travel hubs such as King's Cross, Leicester Square and Oxford Circus came out worst for theft. If you have a spare five minutes, check out the full data set from TfL.
Obviously, being a victim of crime is extremely unpleasant. At the same time, with a crime rate of 12.7 per million journeys across the transport network, your chances of being directly impacted are still pretty slim. Of course, how people feel is still electorally potent, and a third said they had felt worried on public transport in the last three months, according to the most recent TfL Customer Pulse survey.
As for Hall, perhaps a more dextrous politician might have been able to spin the story in the direction of thanking the good samaritan who returned her wallet before hitting the Mayor hard on the actual crime statistics. Though we can all be wise after the event. And to be fair, history has demonstrated that I am more than capable of losing a wallet inside my own flat.
In the comment pages, Michael Wolff explains why the ultra-ambitious Jeff Zucker is back from the dead to buy the Telegraph and Spectator. Fat Tony says that from TfL strikes to extortionate cabs, getting around London these days is hell. While Prudence Ivey urges home buyers to dream big but offer small in London's current property market.
And finally, Taylor Swift has been named Spotify’s most-streamed artist for 2023 with 26 billion streams. Though give a hand to Semafor's Dave Weigel, whose top played performer was Johann Sebastian Bach.
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