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Commander Stokley addresses tackling violent crime

Blog post   •   May 30, 2018 17:45 BST

Commander Jim Stokley, who leads the Met’s response to gang crime, said: “Like every other police force in the world, the Metropolitan Police Service has to keep pace with the rapid advance of technology.

“Smartphones now enable some people to film and upload videos that glorify incidents of violence to social media in a matter of seconds.

“As well as prosecuting those that commit acts of violence, the public would quite rightly expect their police force to use all legislative powers available to target those who post content on the internet that leads to a shooting or stabbing.

“One option we are currently exploring, in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Home Office, is using existing law - in particular the Serious Crime Act - to prosecute someone who uploads a video that incites an act of violence against another person.

“In response to the way the internet enabled people to be radicalised by online content, legislation under the Terrorism Act was created to enable officers to arrest someone for the offence of inciting a person to commit an act of terrorism.

“Using this law, counter terrorism officers do not need to link the online content to a particular attack, they just need to prove the intention.

“I would like to stress that we are not proposing using terrorism legislation to deal with videos that incite violence.

“However, it would assist officers trying to reduce the number of stabbings and shootings, if they were able to use legislation in a similar way to tackle those who incite violence online.

“This is not about policing the internet or criminalising certain types of music or creative expression.

“Our intention is to remove the small number of videos that glorify violence and prosecute those individuals who provoke criminality on the streets of London.

“We are also working closely with all social media providers to ensure it is a collaborative effort to remove online material that could incite a fatal shooting or stabbing.

“My view is that, if one life can be saved by this type of prosecution, then it will be worth it.

“Of course, innovatively using current legislation is just one policing tool the Met is using to try to reduce the amount of violence in the capital.

“We have a range of prevention tactics that we can utilise to target individuals who fuel gun and knife crime.

“These include use of intelligence-led stop and search as well as proactive raids by officers from our Operation Viper units. In 2017, this approach contributed to a record seizure of more than 1,000 firearms.

“Another key part of our work is the diversion work through projects such as the DIVERT programme.

“The Met created DIVERT in April 2015 to address a gap in statutory provision for young adults that come into police custody. This unique programme aims to divert 18 to 25 year olds from a life of crime into employment, development and education opportunities.

“DIVERT intends to prevent re-offending, have fewer victims of crime and help mitigate areas of vulnerability of young adults that come into police custody.

“We are absolutely committed to reducing the level of violence on the streets of London and are using new and existing policing tools that we believe are relevant and proportionate.

“As has been stated before, the policing response to violent crime also needs to be carried out with the support of the communities we serve.

“Police action is part of the answer to the problem of violent crime, but can never be the entire solution.”