I'm really sorry to hear this - I've lived in Bermondsey for nearly 3 years and have never seen any real trouble.
On your points about lenient sentencing there IS something you can do. Under fairly recent laws, any member of the public can appeal to the Lord Chacellor to argue that a sentence is too lenient and in many cases, if enough people write, the case will be reviewed sympathetically, especially if the victims can recount personal reasons of how the lite sentence will affect them.
James O'Brien did a really good series of shows about this on LBC Radio, which was specfically about light sentences being given to people who had abused children - but the law is the same for all crimes. People from victim support groups said that they had appealed hundreds of cases and it had worked, they had sentences increased for people etc.
So there is something you can do. If you can face following their trial etc. and then report on the details of the sentence, you can ask others to write to the Lord Chancellor to form a more effective stance. I'm assuming that you will be asked to be a witness, which may give you the link you need to follow up and see what happens to the people. Please keep us updated and I'd be happy to lobby on your behalf, as would others on this forum I imagine.
Malla - I'm so sorry to hear about your girlfriend's ordeal and I very much hope she is on the mend, mentally and physically. I lived for nearly two years on Tyers Gate (between 2001 and 2003) and think it was (and is) a reasonably safe area. Think your girlfriend has been really, really unlucky but that this will strictly have been a one-off. My best wishes to you both.
I am sorry to hear this also. What a terrible thing to happen. My heart goes out to your girlfriend, and you.
Regarding your question about the safety of the area, I agree that your girlfriend was incredibly unlucky to be in the same place at the same time as that group of men. I have lived here for six years now, and have always felt very safe here; much safer, in fact, than I felt when I used to live in Ealing, the Queen of Suburbs. I used to walk along St Thomas's Street and Bermondsey Street at night on my own regularly, and never felt at all unsafe. Having said that, though, I can completely understand your girlffriend's nervousness about leaving the house, especially as the attack happened so close to home.
Have the people from Victim Support been in touch with you yet? Someone very close to me is in a situation where he is too scared to leave his home as a result of homophobic abuse, and Victim Support have offered him lots of practical help, such as offering to accompany him out of the house, etc.
My ex-flatmate was mugged off Bermondsey st. a few years ago, and I always feel a little aprehensive walking down there.. but it has got better now it's more busy in the evening - e.g. with the B. Kitchen etc..
My boyfriend and I also witnessed a homeless guy getting beaten up a few years ago on St. Thomas' street. My boyfriend confronted the kids (about 14 years old) that did it, and they stopped - we then called the Police, who were great. They took us round in a police car and we spotted some of the gang and the picked them up. I was really impressed.
We never heard anything more about it though, so I guess they didn't get prosecuted, which was a shame.
Just to warn everyone - two kids on bikes tried to mug me on Grange Road at about 8:45pm on Thursday night. Somehow I just knew it was about to happen and I managed to hold onto my bag as tightly as I could and we had a bit of a struggle over it and eventually he let go. I think he realised that he was going to have to drag me down the street with him if he wanted it.
I found that the police were a bit dismissive really...
But be on the look out for two boys about 15/ 16 years old, the one that grabbed my bag was wearing a grey hoodie and was riding a BMX. The other one was riding a normal mountain bike and dark clothes... I'm sure I've seen them hanging around the Grange Road/ Spa Road area and I have my suspicions that they were the two responsible to the spayt of burglaries we've had over the past year (I live on Grange Road).
malla, sorry to hear of this attack. You both were completly "on the ball", doing your best to stay out of trouble, and yet you have been the victims of an attack.
I say it was an attack, because the word mugging seems inadequate. I also say that you were both victims, because you heard your girlfriends scream and I can only imagine the effect it would have on you. This is nastiness and brutality and deserves to be treated as such. I hope these criminals are treated correctly and not given the usual tacit encouragement to continue attacking us.
I was mugged in Leathermarket Gardens 3 weeks ago at 7.30 in the evening after leaving Topnotch gym on ST Thomas St. One kid (about 15) came to ask me the time, tried to get my bag several times, hit me and then his friends came along to help. They looked to be still in school uniform only it was dark and the uniform was black so not very distinguishable from any others. I got kicked and punched repeatedly in the head and still getting headaches now.
I told the gym about this and was told a kid had been outside it trying to snatch bags.
Hopefully the police are on the lookout as the acoustics in the area are such that it's impossible to tell where sounds / screams are coming from.
I still love the area and am thinking of buying a flat here.