"I was coming back from the club, wearing high heels and a very provocative red dress, when two men tried to grab me and take me to an alley," says Ana Sofia with her body shuddering.

Ana, 21, lives in Vauxhall, a district of central London. She'd just gotten home from a nightclub. About two months ago, she walked back from a club in Trafalgar Square with almost no battery in her phone and no recollection of having lost her key at the club. As a result, when she arrived at her home, she was unable to enter. Just before her phone suddenly turned off, she called her friends and asked them to come back and pick her up. After a few minutes, she turned around and saw two middle-aged men approaching her. She tried to walk faster, but her high heels prevented her from doing so.

"They grabbed me by the arm and waist," Ana Sofia recalls. I was so scared that I thought, "This is it; I'll never see my family or friends again, but I yelled like I'd never screamed before. That was something my mother had taught me since I was a child to do if I ever found myself in this situation. They were stunned, and I fled as quickly as I could."

This is just one of many crime-related stories in London this year, and she was fortunate enough to be able to tell hers. Hearing these kinds of stories makes us consider our safety, why there is an increase in violence, and, most importantly, what can be done.

London at night can be a dangerous place, especially in Ana Sofia's situation. Crime and robbery are issues that must be considered when walking alone in New York City, just as they are in any other large city. There is a common misconception that because London is one of the most well-known and recognised cities in the world, it is a safe place to live, with almost no fear of being robbed, assaulted, or even stabbed, particularly in Central London.

Regrettably, as the news media has reported, crime has increased in recent years. According to The Telegraph, there have been more stabbings, missing persons, and robberies than ever before in our social media feeds. Knife crimes have increased by 80 percent since 2014. There has only been a 15% increase in violent crime in the last year. Also, according to Metropolitan Police, the crime rate in London in contrast with the resto of the country in 2021-2022 is 78%. The annual change is up to a 4.5% rise indicating that a clen dominates the charts.

Matteo Tiratelli, a sociology teaching fellow at UCL, specialises in crime and social history. He asserts that years like 2018 and 2019 were notable in the context of the previous decade, but that does not tell the whole storey.

"There has been a significant increase. However, it is still significantly lower than the crime rate in the 1990s. At least in the United Kingdom, crime has been declining since the 1990s."

Ben Bradford, professor of Global City Policing at UCL's Department of Security and Crime Science, agrees that crime is on the rise, but explains that crime is more concentrated in lower-income areas than in Central London. "However," he continues, "there are some exceptions, such as Westminster, where crime is concentrated at night. It wasn't a big deal a few years ago. But even so, crime, particularly some forms of violence, has increased in my opinion, but it remains localised."

Even if it hasn't been as bad as it was in the 1990s, and it isn't yet predominately in Central London, the numbers speak for themselves: the rise of violence, particularly robbery, is becoming a real issue in Central London.

Megumi's phone was stolen about a month ago.

"I was eating with my friends at a restaurant in Vauxhall. At the end of the meal, a homeless woman who didn't really look homeless, probably in her mid-40s, approached us and handed us a piece of paper with words I couldn't understand, asking for food. She quickly distracted all of us by grabbing my phone, which was on the table beneath the paper she was holding "She elaborates.

Megumi believes this was a planned robbery because, following the incident, she spoke with some friends in Central London who had also lost their phone in the same way. "This was not something I expected to happen to me. I simply couldn't believe it."

She stated that she went to police in Lambeth immediately after the incident because the restaurant she was at recommended her. The cops told her there was nothing she could do. "Unfortunately, they were unable to assist and stated, "We are sorry, we are unable to assist." They said that, and I believe they didn't understand my annoyance; they probably thought it wasn't a big deal "Megumi elaborated.

Anyone today can encounter a situation similar to the ones described above at any time, but what can be done to prevent or at least reduce the chances? When we are robbed, the first thing we think of is going to the police, just like Megumi. But how much assistance can the police provide? The study "Does stop and search reduce crime?" by Ben Bradford and Matteo Tiratelli examines whether the police tactic of stop and search can be an alternative solution to reducing the current rising crime rate. Nonetheless, this study concludes that there is little actual evidence that it has an effect on crime. "It is not an effective method of combating crime in general." There is little evidence to suggest that increasing the stop and search tactic can have a negative effect," Matteo elaborated.

Ben believes that policing hotspots, where resources are concentrated in high-crime areas, could help to reduce crime in those areas temporarily. "Police tactics will reduce crime in the short term, but to have a long-term effect, you must address the underlying causes that are beyond police control," Ben explained.

Matteo concurs and believes that the police should be the last resort. "According to a senior police officer, "we are the organisation that gets called in when everything else fails." That, I believe, is correct. These issues do not begin with the police; they necessitate much broader social changes."

The economy, social exclusion, poverty, and changes in the drug market are among the social issues discussed by both experts. If these issues are addressed and resolved, there may be a long and significant positive change. The government and the community must develop resources to assist society and reduce the likelihood of people becoming criminals.

"An example of long-term tactics could be focused on the school exclusion problem that exists in London and throughout the United Kingdom," Ben suggested. "It can help with the children's formation if the school and parents take care of it and address it at an early stage."

As a theft survivor, Megumi believes that if awareness is spread throughout the boroughs, robbery can be avoided. "People will be more cautious and take better care of their belongings if the stories of phone robberies are shared throughout the community, including how it happened and who approached them. Awareness, in my opinion, is everything. If I had known the possibility of this happening to me, I would have kept a closer eye on my phone."

When asked about her thoughts on crime-fighting efforts, Ana Sofia stated that she has noticed changes in nightclubs since this year's continued spread of awareness around the world about women being victims of sex crimes. "I went to Zoo Bar in Leicester Square last week. When I entered the bathroom, I saw two posters about no tolerance for sexual abuse and a Metropolitan Police programme in which you go to the bar and ask for Angela if you are uncomfortable with a man. To be honest, I was relieved to see it and to know that I could go out again without fear."

The "Ask for Angela" campaign is another example of long-term action to combat sexual harassment. It makes women feel safe when they're out, and if a man follows them and insists on following them, he can be kicked out of the club.

However, there is currently a noticeable increase in crime throughout London; however, as Ben explained, it is contained. It has the potential to worsen and spread throughout the United Kingdom. This is why we need to be aware of what we can do as citizens, what we can do as a society, and what we need to ask the government to address for long-term tactics rather than short-term ones as the policies have worked out. Knowing that you can seek assistance can help you avoid a tragedy. It can prevent a stabbing, sexual assault, or robbery.

We must all begin to be more cautious, protective, and helpful to one another if we see anyone in a situation where they could be hurt or where someone is being rude to another. There are also centres where you can get help and support if you know someone who has been through a traumatic violent event, such as Refuge for Women, Children Against Domestic Violence, and a 24/7 free helpline. Changing your mindset can actually assist someone else in making the best decision.