The Metropolitan Police have launched a crackdown on gang crime with a 1,000-strong team of officers.
A city-wide operation today will see raids designed to track down and arrest people suspected of gang membership and those believed to be involved in crime. The diversification of Trident to target gangs as well as its original remit of preventing gun crime in black communities was revealed by the Guardian in January this year, though not everyone thinks organising extra raids is the way forward. Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said:
"This is a step-change in how we tackle gang crime in London. It will allow us to identify and relentlessly pursue the most harmful gangs and gang members. It will help us identify young people on the periphery of gangs and work with partners to divert them away."
Boris Johnson also acknowledges the need to go beyond arrests and work with the community, charities and local authorities, although he's obviously keen to demonstrate his determination to tackle crime ahead of the mayoral elections in May:
"We've been attacking gangs from all angles. Now the Met has a concerted and determined push to take out the ring-leaders and tempt impressionable youngsters away from this destructive life."
The crackdown will focus on 19 'key boroughs'; Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Merton, Camden, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. The Met estimates that there are around 4,800 people involved in 435 gangs, with 250 gangs criminally active and responsible for two thirds of gang-related offences. Stats around those offences include approximately 17% of all personal robbery, 40% of 'cash in transit' and commercial robbery, 12% of residential burglary, 26% of aggravated burglary, 14% of rape, 22% of serious violence, 20% of stabbings and 50% of shootings.
The Met's announcement comes in a timely fashion — the trial of three men accused of a gang-related shooting in Stockwell last year is currently underway. Tragically, five-year old Thusha Kamaleswaran was left paralysed when rival gang members clashed in a south London convenience store.
The mayor also seems keen to get stuck in, so we wonder if he will be joining the Met on any of their raids today.