An MP has called for the police to crack down on muggings after more than 50 attacks on local children and young people.

MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers said at least four schools in the constituency – Finchley Catholic High School, The Jewish Community Secondary School, Friern Barnet School and East Barnet School – had reported incidents to the police since December.

But she said the Metropolitan Police’s response had so far been “nowhere near good enough”.

Ms Villiers said: “I fully appreciate the concern felt by children, parents and teachers about the recent increase in muggings.

“It’s appalling that Barnet secondary school students have been threatened and robbed.

“The problem may temporarily reduce while schools are closed, but when I spoke to the headteacher of Finchley High School, Niamh Arnull, on Friday, she remained very concerned, as are other heads. I can completely understand why.

“These crimes are wholly unacceptable, and I have been urging the police to crack down on the problem.”

The MP said she had raised the issue with Superintendent Mark Hambleton of Barnet Police, and he assured her arrests had been made in relation to the recent increase in street crime around Barnet schools.

Supt Hambleton also said the Met would be recruiting more officers, which would improve its ability to keep children and young people safe.

Ms Villiers added: “The response to my call for more action was positive, but I will raise this issue again if there are further incidents.

“I appreciate that the Covid-19 crisis will have big impacts on policing, as it will in all other walks of life, but I wanted to ensure that the police don’t let up on street crime or muggings.”

Supt Hambleton, from North West Basic Command Unit, said the Met was committed to tackling robberies of schoolchildren in the Chipping Barnet area.

He added: “Dedicated Safer Schools and Neighbourhood Officers are now carrying out high-visibility patrols outside schools at peak times, while officers from central teams, including the Violent Crime Taskforce and Operation Sceptre, have also been joining our local officers to increase these visible patrols across the borough.

“These units are tasked on a daily basis to different locations depending on where the need is identified as greatest. One such patrol was around Finchley and specifically targeted this offence of robbery around schools.

“Our Safer Schools officer is also in regular contact with staff at local schools and officers have carried out regular visits specifically to provide crime prevention advice to students, reminding them to report any robberies to police as soon as is practical.

“More widely across the area, a dedicated robbery focus unit has been set up. This team reviews all robberies on a daily basis to ensure initial investigation is complete and to identify offenders, investigative opportunities and suspects.

“A robbery review meeting is held every week to focus resources and operations to key areas and to ensure suspects are arrested and dealt with at the earliest opportunity.

“Regarding schools within the Chipping Barnet area specifically, robberies have decreased from 19 per month recorded in November 2019 to 12 in February and eight in March.

“Robbery offences have also reduced across the BCU, from an average of 73 offences per week for the week commencing 17 February to 60 in the corresponding week in March.

“We understand that many parents are concerned about this issue and we are doing everything we can to tackle problems as they arise. Combatting street robberies is one of our top priorities and the number of officers dedicated to this will continue to grow over the coming year.”