In a special joint Met Police and Tower Hamlets council operation described as “the largest ever number of coordinated dawn raids” in the fight against drugs, burglary and theft, 66 people have been arrested across East London and other parts of the capital this morning.
“Operation Carbon” involved more than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers from Tower Hamlets borough, the Territorial Support Group (TSG) and Specialist Crime and Operations (SCO), and executed search warrants at 75 addresses.
One of the key headquarters for the operation in the early hours of this morning was Tower Hamlets Town Hall and most of the arrests took place in this borough and Hackney to the north.
Tower Hamlets Council and the Met Police say the “meticulously-executed operation” has yielded “a significant haul of electrical goods, including smart phones and laptops.”
All those arrested are currently in police custody in stations all over London pending further enquiries.
Commander Stephen Watson, East Area Commander of the Met Police, described the aims of this unprecedented operation as his officers began to make arrests.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “We have been pleased to support the police in their activities this morning. This operation has targeted persistent offenders whose actions have had serious implications for their victims.”
“Tower Hamlets Council is committed to tackling crime, with local partnership working such as this operation with the police making a real difference for local people,” he added.
Detective Chief Inspector Des McHugh, who led today’s operation, said: “These arrests follow a lengthy intelligence-led operation designed to combat criminal networks within Tower Hamlets and the surrounding boroughs.”
He said: “The operation has targeted those concerned in burglary, robbery, handling stolen goods and drugs. Other key suspects have previously been arrested and there will be further searches and arrests to come.”
He added: “Today’s activity represents the largest pre-planned single arrest operation that the MPS has conducted.”
He praised Tower Hamlets Council for their financial and logistical backing: “I hope that this very visual crackdown will increase public confidence in the Met’s ability and desire to tackle the criminals who engage in or facilitate these deplorable crimes.”
The huge scale of today’s operation represents the second phase of an inquiry that in its first phase has seized electrical goods with an estimated value of £100,000 and has already returned hundreds of items to the rightful owners.
This includes reuniting the victims of burglary with their belongings such as retired professor Nicholas Mitchison, 85, whose computer was stolen while he and his wife were asleep in their home in Islington: “I still carry out research for London’s University College Hospital and had been working on a paper covering Human Genetics. The paper was almost complete and due to be published when we were broken into.”
“They appeared to know exactly which items to take and quite deliberately targeted the computer. We really didn’t expect to see it again so were most surprised when we were contacted by the police to say they had recovered items belonging to us,” he added.
Lorna Mitchison, 81, said the burglary “was really frightening and a rather infuriating experience. You always expect these people to watch the house and wait for you to leave, not wait for you to go to bed so that they can break in.”
Ngaio Simpson, 23, from Blackheath and a primary school teacher in Clapham has been reunited with her mobile smart phone: “The phone was taken as I chatted to friends in a bar in central London. I didn’t report the theft as I genuinely didn’t think anything could be done or that I’d ever see it again.”
Tower Hamlets Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, said: “This morning’s raids are the culmination of a pre-planned, long-term initiative designed to disrupt criminal gangs. Every break-in and every street snatch shatters lives whilst drug dealing can have a devastating impact on communities.
“This operation highlights the Met’s commitment to tackle serious and organised crime by targeting those involved in this type of criminality,” he added.