504 arrests, 107 weapons seized and 293 drug seizures - a two-week snapshot of the Met’s anti-violence work on the capital’s streets.
In response to incidents of violence and knife crime, the Met formed the Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) in April 2018 to help tackle the issue, take weapons off the streets and to keep London’s communities safe. The VCTF carry out a variety of activities and are made up of 272 officers across a range of disciplines and specialisms. Since their formation last year, up until the end of February 2019, they carried out 6,324 weapons sweeps in public parks and open spaces looking for weapons and drugs. They seized 245 firearms, 650 knives, 495 offensive weapons and arrested 3,401 people for weapons, violence and drug-related offences.
But the Met’s response to violent crime involves officers’ right across the city from different units and specialisms to neighbourhood policing and is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Between Monday, 11 and Sunday, 24 February, officers from the VCTF worked with units across the organisation including the Dog Unit, Forensic Services, the Territorial Support Group and Roads Policing Units, to carry out activities to reduce violence. These have included search warrants, weapons sweeps, traffic-related operations, stop and searches, knife arches and other intelligence led activities - many in addition to normal police operations, targeting public space violence across London.
This activity led to more than 504 arrests, 107 weapons recovered including 16 firearms; and 293 drug seizures.
As well as using a range of enforcement strategies, the Met is engaged in crime prevention, safeguarding activity and work to reduce reoffending - seeking to protect those who are vulnerable to being drawn into violence and diverting others away from crime. Activity during these two weeks has included engagement and diversion work, with a focus on supporting young people brought into custody, helping them to turn their backs on crime through the Divert programme.
The Met created Divert in April 2015. Recognising the needs of young adults after arrest, the program aims to divert 18 to 25 year olds towards employment and education opportunities, prevent re-offending, reduce the number of victims and help mitigate the ongoing risks encountered by many of the vulnerable young adults that come into police custody. In the last two weeks alone, the team has engaged with more than 60 people within the custody environment. Information and guidance has been provided and 25 people have enrolled on a pre-employment training course, with two already in employment.
Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan, who heads up the VCTF, said: “Officers from across the Met are working tirelessly to reduce the levels of violence, prevent crime, protect communities, take weapons off the street and bring perpetrators to justice. Bearing down on violent crime continues to be the top priority for the Met.
“In this two-week period alone, officers across the city have made significant arrests, taken further weapons off the streets and, I am in no doubt, prevented crimes from occurring. I hope this snapshot of just some of the work the Met has been doing provides reassurance to our communities.
“We know there is still a significant amount of work still to do in order to rid the capital of violence and we cannot solve this problem alone. Communities have an absolutely vital role to play in tackling violent crime. We want to hear from anyone who may have information about people who may carry knives, or who are involved in organised drug crime and maybe exploiting young people, putting them into dangerous and vulnerable situations.
“If you have information that may help prevent a violent crime, or help an investigation, but you aren’t comfortable speaking directly to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name or trace your call.
“Young people who have either information about violence or knife crime, can visit www.fearless.org where they can pass on information anonymously. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.
“If you need help or information to support someone you suspect is involved in knife crime, or you want to assistance yourself, then you can visit www.knifefree.co.uk Your information could save lives in the future. Please get in touch.”