Fury as police drop probes into two Chanukah attacks over a 'lack of resources'

The JC and partners offer £30,000 reward to help bring antisemitic attackers to justice


Handout video grab dated 29/11/21 issued by the Metropolitan Police of men wanted by the police after anti-Semitic abuse was directed towards a group of young Jewish people during an open-top party bus in Oxford Street. The group was spat at by a group of men in what was described as a "bigoted antisemitic attack". Photo.. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/

The Metropolitan Police was accused of “institutional failure” last night after officers closed investigations into two disturbing Chanukah attacks, citing a lack of “resources”.

Emails seen by the JC reveal that in one incident, detectives did not even attempt to access CCTV, saying it would amount to a “fishing expedition”.

The assaults — one targeting a bus of youngsters on Oxford Street, and the other a knife attack in West Hampstead by a man declaring he wanted to “find a Jew to kill” — made national headlines.

Yet this week, the Met confirmed that despite CCTV, mobile phone footage and multiple witnesses, investigators had concluded both investigations. The attackers remain at large.

Now the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has vowed to personally investigate. “Hate crime has a chilling effect on the entire community,” he said. “I’ll seek to endeavour to find out what happened.”

It comes as the JC has joined with the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Jewish News to offer a joint £30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the Oxford Street incident. The CAA is offering a further £10,000 reward linked to the West Hampstead knife attack.

One of those targeted on Oxford Street told the JC: “I don’t think the police did enough at all. I don’t know even if they went back to the scene. They took some details. I think they called us the day after or two days after.

“They said they were going to update us but nothing happened. They should at least want to investigate and find who these people are, deal with it so it won’t happen again. This is Oxford Street, in the middle of London.

"Thank God nobody was physically hurt, but you don’t know what’s going to happen next time. They are just going to feel they can get away with anything.”

In a statement to the JC, the police even admitted that the Oxford Street case had been quietly dropped in July, after just six months.

Speaking via the CAA, the 20-year-old victim of the West Hampstead knife attack said: “I might not still be here today had my martial arts training not saved my life. This would have been a domestic antisemitic terrorist attack against a British Jew on the streets of London.

“The police response time on the night was bad enough, but for them to say that it is not worth their while to review CCTV and to leave a potentially lethal antisemitic attacker at large is beyond appalling. Terrorists in recent memory have committed similar attacks to what I experienced.”

Lord Carlile, the former government reviewer of anti-terror legislation, told the JC: “The police must start to prioritise violent and explicitly racist attacks, especially where there is photographic evidence of a kind which should enable the perpetrator to be identified.

“Both of these cases are examples of institutional failure to prioritise significant cases involving serious danger to members of the public. Letting this slide makes other incidents and even possible terror incidents more likely.”

The failings have led the Board of Deputies (BoD) to demand an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary.

Its president, Marie Van der Zyl, called it “a symbolic and totemic issue for the community and we need answers”. She added: “This now appears unfortunately to be part of a pattern following the sudden closure of the investigation in West Hampstead. The police must do their job.”

A spokesperson for the CAA said: “If even high-profile hate crimes such as these are not solved and the perpetrators brought to justice, what hope do the many other crimes against Jews have of being satisfactorily investigated?”

Dave Rich, Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust, added: “This comes in the same week that the Home Office revealed only eight per cent of all racist and religious hate crimes lead to a charge or summons.”

A police email to the victim of the knife attack said: “The resourcing required (to pull CCTV) would be disproportionate,” calling it a “fishing expedition.”

Chief Superintendent Andy Carter said: “An investigation was launched and a proactive appeal was issued to media, as well as to the public via the Met’s social media channels as part of our work to identify the man. His image was also circulated internally to our officers.

“At this time, no suspects have been identified. We remain keen to hear from anyone who can name him.” In the second Chanukah incident, young people were abused on a Chabad bus trip on Oxford Street. A group of men punched the vehicle and threw objects.

“The only names provided in response to those appeals have been eliminated from our inquiries,” a Met spokesperson said.

“The identity of those involved is still unknown. A decision was taken in July to close the case.” The Met declined to give more detail on its operations, but insisted there had been “a full and thorough investigation”.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, said: “Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in our society and the Mayor utterly condemns the disgusting incident on Oxford Street last November. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has asked the Met for an urgent update on this investigation, and is in contact with Jewish community leaders.

“The Mayor continues to urge anyone with information that could help the police to identify and prosecute those behind this despicable attack to come forward and contact the Met by dialling 101, or to report anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

In a letter to the BoD, seen by the JC, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Knight said the attack was “investigated sufficiently and proportionately within the parameters of the (available) information.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive