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One year on from the launch of the Met’s Violence Suppression Units

News   •   May 10, 2021 15:30 BST

Formed during the height of the pandemic to tackle street violence on a local level, the Met’s Violence Suppression Units (VSU) have made their presence felt since their launch.

In their first year of operation, they have taken 1,142 weapons off the streets, seized £1.5million in cash that has come from criminality and made 6,031 arrests for violent offences.

Formed in May 2020, some of their success include the seizure of a kilo of heroin following a long-term investigation in Islington, the recovery of a loaded firearm following a stop and search in Walworth and the arrest of suspects in connection with a stabbing in Tottenham after they fled the scene and went to ground.

Alongside enforcement, the VSUs focus on engagement with their communities in efforts to earn the trust and work with local communities. In Croydon for example, officers took part in training sessions with local residents where they developed valued relationships and learnt more about the communities they work with.

The VSUs are made up of local officers who are solely based in their geographic area, making them alive to specific issues and allowing them to build vital relationships. They are a proactive unit who identify and target the most serious offenders and tackle the key drivers of violence.

In one year of operating, they have had tremendous success:

- 6,031 arrests made for violent offences including: robbery, GBH and murder;
- 1,142 knives and weapons seized;
- 81 firearms recovered;
- 1,256 warrants carried out;
- £1.5million in cash from criminality confiscated;
- 3,000 weapon sweeps carried out.

The goal behind this activity is to prevent more people getting harmed. We also recognise that some people who are involved in violence can also be victims themselves and we are doing everything we can to support people down different paths. The VSUs work with DIVERT, the Met’s diversion programme to prevent young people reoffending, lead them away from violence and crime and into employment, education and training.

In the lead up to the anniversary, 12 activity days took place in a surge of efforts to apprehend violent offenders. They were joined by the Violence Reduction Unit’s Young People’s Action Group, who were given an insight into the teams and had open discussions with officers about how they are working to increase trust and confidence and prevent serious youth violence.

Commander Alex Murray, Met lead for violent crime, said: “The Violence Suppression Units were launched at the start of the pandemic and have been policing London during unprecedented times. The VSU teams have such passion for bearing down on violent crime and are an investment into local policing working alongside the communities they serve.

“Bearing down on violence in our capital is the number one priority of everyone in the Met. The VSUs work day and night, seven days a week to do exactly that. I hope the public feel reassured to hear more about dedicated teams whose job it is to proactively reduce violent crime and feel safer in London because of it.

“We recognise that policing is only a part of what is takes to stop violence. We work in partnership with the Violence Reduction Units, schools, families and other agencies so that together, as Londoners, we can prevent more people getting hurt.

“The results speak for themselves, however we are not complacent and these efforts will continue, but we also need the public to help us in the fight against violence. If anyone has information on violent crime, no matter how small, we need to hear about it. If you don’t want to speak to police, the independent charity Crimestoppers can help you.”

+ Hard calls save lives. Are you close to someone on the fringes of knife crime? Do the right thing, please give information, 100 per cent anonymously, through the independent charity Crimestoppers. 

No piece of information about knife crime is insignificant or too small. Any information you give to Crimestoppers can make a difference in reducing knife crime and the harm it causes to families.

Crimestoppers never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or the device you use. Fill in their quick online form or call 0800 555 111. It could save a life.