Hundreds of knives were removed from the streets of London and more than 1,800 people arrested as the result of a five-week anti-violence crackdown.
The latest phase of Operation Winter Nights involved officers from across the Met, led by the Violent Crime Taskforce, working with communities in efforts to build trust and confidence, prevent robbery and violence and offer diversion opportunities to those who wanted it.
In total the operation, which ran from Monday, 30 November to Sunday, 3 January, resulted in:
- 313 knives removed from the streets
- 107 other offensive weapon seized
- 20 firearms recovered
- 955 other illegal items such as drugs seized
- 1,825 arrests for offences such as possession with intent to supply class A drugs, robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.
- 146 warrants carried out
The VCTF were supported by Operation Venice, the Violence Suppression Units, Gangs officers, the TSG and local BCU officers.
Each of the five weeks had a different focus, utilising various approaches to reduce violence in London. Week one involved ANPR enforcement activity with our bordering forces named Operation Pandilla. This work led to the arrest of 75 offenders involved in violence and drug dealing. Offciers were also able to build up a strong intelligence picture of criminality in our communities.
The second week focused on robbery hotspot areas, flooding them with a policing presence. An operation in these areas to disrupt criminals resulted in 30 arrests.
The following week officers cracked down on arresting our wanted high harm offenders, even appealing to the public on social media to ask them to help us find and arrest them under our ’12 days of Christmas crime.’
In the fourth week, the focus was back to robbery in the run up to Christmas. Although London entered Tier 4, a proactive operation to disrupt offenders in areas known for robbery took place and leaflets were given out to increase awareness of robbery under the Look Up Look Out campaign.
The fifth and final week saw a surge of anti-violence activity including arrest warrants, weapon sweeps, proactive patrols and intelligence-led stop and search in areas where violence is known to occur most frequently. Every person brought into custody was given the chance to be referred to a diversion scheme, which provide the opportunity for advice, training and guidance. In the last quarter of 2020 alone, 73 people were referred to DIVERT- an intervention programme aimed to reduce re-offending.
Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s Violence Lead, said: “There was a real flood of activity to tackle violence over this period and that will only continue in 2021.
“Teams from all corners of the Met worked together, as they do every day, in a collective effort to prevent harm and keep people safe.
“I hope the public felt reassured by our visible presence in robbery and violence hotspots and know it is the top priority of everyone in the Met.
“Now we are into the new year, we will take a systematic approach to tackling violence and will continue to be involved in engagement, prevention and diversion. When violence occurs in our communities, it is devastating. It is vital that we engage with all of our communities and help those who need it.”
If you have any information about knife crime, please contact police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 – your anonymity is guaranteed. They are a totally independent charity and you remain 100 per cent anonymous, they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or device you use. Alternatively, visit their website https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.
No detail you might have is too small - every bit of information helps towards the fight against knife crime in London.
It can feel like a hard call, but it could save a life.
If you are worried about someone you suspect may be carrying a knife or other weapon, advice and support is also available through organisations including Knife Free https://www.knifefree.co.uk/get-help-support/ and Fearless: https://www.fearless.org/en