Local police, partner agencies and residents from Camden were joined by Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on an anti-violence community event today, 16 October 2019.
The Camden Police Team held the cross-generation community weapon sweep and anti-violence event at St Paul’s Church (Parish of St Pancras) with an aim to bring the community together to help tackle violence in the wake of recent tragic incidents.
Pupils and teachers from Regent High School, local councillors, members of the Fire and Ambulance Services, local residents, Camden Against Violence and other community schools and groups attended this morning’s event.
Detective Superintendent David Courcha gave an overview of the Met’s recent anti-violence work, before local Cadet Coordinator Steuart Allenand A/Inspector Dave Hodges gave a crime prevention and personal safety input on how to help prevent knife crime and spot the signs of gang grooming before the group went out to conduct a weapons sweep.
The sweep, which involves locating knives, drugs and other items hidden in and around public spaces, covered Camden Square before moving down to the Maiden Lane Estate, where they were joined by the Commissioner and the Mayor. A knife was found near the park and the Commissioner herself found a pair of scissors hidden near children’s play equipment.
PC Jonathon Dunbar, who organised the morning’s activities, said: “It is fantastic to see so many people, young and old, from across the Camden community here today to help tackle knife crime. It has been a real success. Any knife or weapon we find and seize means one less weapon on the street.
“The police cannot solve the violence issue alone. It is essential that we work with communities, charities and partner agencies to deal with this issue and the public want to feel empowered to play a key role in keeping their own neighbourhoods safe.”
Officers were leaving leaflets and posters around the area to help signpost young people to help and support including KnifeFree.Org and The Prince’s Trust.
A/Inspector Dave Hodges added: “Drug dealing and rival gang issues are behind a large proportion of violence both here in Camden and across London.
“When people say grooming, most people will think of online crime but actually gangs and dealers are also grooming young people and it’s an issue we all need to be aware of, especially parents, teachers and the children themselves.
“The tactics they use are clever, and someone might not understand they are being used or “groomed”. Basic signs like new trainers, phones or tracksuits could be an early indication that a child may be in the process of being groomed by criminal gangs.
“They are promised protection and then they are in the gang’s debt and they end up carrying weapons or drugs on their behalf and find themselves in really risky situations. We want to stop this and protect young people before it gets to this stage.
“Information from the community is essential. Not just after events but before anything has happened. Details of who is possible dealing drugs, exploiting children or carrying weapons - it will all help stop violence and tragedy. It can be passed on completely anonymously through Crimestoppers. Please pick up the phone.”
If you want to organise a local weapons sweep please contact your local police team via the 101 number. If you need advice and information about the signs to spot or how to talk to a young person about gangs, violence and drugs you can access advice and support through organisations such as The Prince’s Trust, NSPCC or by visiting KnifeFree.co.uk. Information given to Crimestoppers in 100% anonymous. They don’t ask your name or trace your call. No one will ever know you called unless you choose to tell them.