More than 5,000 suspected criminals are on the run after failing to answer their bail and attend court hearings in London.

Police are hunting at least 1,000 wanted for the most serious offences, including murder, rape and robbery.  Some may have fled overseas while others are still in London or hiding elsewhere in Britain.  The fugitives include four people charged with murder, 91 with robbery, 54 with rape and hundreds accused of violent crimes and drug offences.

More than 90 are wanted in connection with knife crime. Four have been charged with indecency with a child, while seven are accused of making indecent images of children.

The figures for the capital, obtained by the Evening Standard under the Freedom of Information Act, show 5,259 are on the run.

A total of 1,183 are suspected of the most serious crimes. Of those, 822 have avoided capture for more than a year.

But the Met warned it would “never give up” efforts to bring them to justice. Since the force relaunched its London Most Wanted website in May, more than 20 alleged offenders featured have been arrested — with tip-offs from the public being the only leads in some cases.

David Way, head of the Met’s enforcement unit, said: “We are committed to catching all offenders who evade justice. We will use every means available. We are constantly looking for these people but if someone does not want to be found, sometimes it is difficult to track them down. No matter how long they have been at large we never give up in our efforts.”

The statistics show police are tracking down most bail-jumpers. Of 10,845 “fail to appear” warrants issued in the 12 months from June last year, 8,402 led to an arrest.

Police are reluctant to disclose methods used to find suspects, but it is known they share information with councils and other agencies, such as HM Revenue and Customs.

A spokesman from Victim Support said: “It’s important people charged with a crime are brought to justice, as the longer it goes on, there’s a chance they will bump into alleged victims unintentionally or intentionally.”

The latest figures for suspects on the run also include 17 people wanted for possessing a firearm, 11 for threats to kill, six for causing death by dangerous driving, 172 for possession of Class A drugs and more than 100 for GBH.

Most cases involve relatively minor offences such as theft and shoplifting. Anyone with information about suspects can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


Felix Allen

Thomas Leopold was dubbed the “radioactive fugitive” when he skipped bail and went on the run in Ireland last year.

The college principal, 43, was on bail charged with child pornography offences but absconded days before he was due to face trial.

The alarm was raised when Leopold, left, who ran a private college called The Tutors Group in Hammersmith, failed to show up at Southwark crown court in February.

A judge who issued a warrant for his arrest added a health warning that he posed a danger to anyone he came into contact with after receiving a large dose of radioactive therapy for a thyroid condition.

Harrow-educated Leopold, a former financier with Barclays de Zoete Wedd before he set up his college at Blythe Hall School, was first arrested in July 2006 but he skipped bail and was later convicted of failing to attend court and fined £250. His case was originally due to be heard in October 2006, but it was delayed because of his ill health.

After going on the run before the rescheduled trial last year he eventually admitted five charges of making indecent photographs of children. He was given a non-custodial sentence.

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