Commissioner Cressida Dick today (Wednesday, 13 May) set out the Met’s plans to continue suppressing violent crime as lockdown measures are eased.
Over the past seven weeks, officers across the capital have been working hard to keep London safe and support vital NHS workers on the frontline of the pandemic. When the streets emptied, crime levels dropped as the vast majority of people stayed at home.
During this period the Met capitalised on this unprecedented shift in crime and demand to identify and target offenders responsible for the most serious crimes, particularly violence. Since 13 March, officers have recovered 444 knives, 322 offensive weapons, 106 firearms and made 2,478 other seizures – mostly drugs.
As the Government begins to remove some lockdown restrictions, the Met is continuing to proactively bear down on violence in all its forms.
As part of this commitment, dedicated teams have been established to spearhead suppression activity at a local and neighbourhood level. More than 620 officers will make up new Violence Suppression Units (VSU).
Officers have also identified up to 1,000 of London’s most prolific violent offenders and are personally targeting each one of them. The Met is offering every individual support and help to take this opportunity to turn their lives around.
Analysts have also identified up to 250 “micro hotspots”, small areas disproportionately affected by street violence and robbery. Innovative tactics, including short bursts of police activity at random times, will be deployed to drive out offenders.
Commissioner Dick said: “The last seven weeks have not been easy for Londoners and my thoughts are with everyone who has suffered a terrible loss as a result of this invisible enemy.
“Our focus is now towards life as the lockdown restrictions are eased. Unsurprisingly, as Londoners stayed at home we saw huge decreases in almost all crime types – including in priority areas such as violence.
“During the lockdown my officers have worked hard providing a reassuring presence on the streets and supporting our NHS colleagues, but they have never lost their focus on violence, our foremost crime priority. We have capitalised on the significant shift in demand to allow us to make more arrests for serious and violent offences while protecting people and places.”
Commissioner Dick added: “I know Londoners want to see more officers on the beat and these newly established Violence Suppression Units will strengthen our commitment to drive out crime within neighbourhoods. Since September 2019, more than 2,000 new police officers have joined the Met and overall we have grown by 700 as part of the national uplift programme – it is because of this uplift that we can invest in bespoke units such as this.
“These teams are now operational and are joining the thousands of other officers on patrol who are keeping the public reassured and the streets safe. Since February, dedicated violence suppression activity has led to over 1,200 arrests including many violent and dangerous people.
“But we cannot succeed at this activity without the continued support from the public. We rely on information from Londoners about violence to help stop it before someone comes to harm. If you have any information, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, please let us know. You could be the vital piece of information that could stop bloodshed.
“Finally, I want to thank those officers and staff throughout the Met who have been working tirelessly to keep London safe. There is no doubt this has been a challenge for them – the very nature of our work means social distancing is not always possible.
“However, as we have in the past, Met people have risen to the unique challenges of this pandemic and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Do you know about someone who is carrying a knife or is involved in violence? If you have information that could help keep your community safe, but don’t want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.fearless.org. They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or IP address.