Hackney, Lewisham, Croydon and Tower Hamlets are four of the 19 key boroughs targeted in a Metropolitan Police Service initiative launched today. The scheme sees borough authorities working with central command to tackle gang crime.
As part of the initiative dozens of suspected gang members will be pursued by the Met in an operation spearheaded by the newly formed ‘Trident Gang Crime Command’. More than 300 raids have been taking across the city since dawn.
The Met has said it has made 213 arrests so far and executed 171 warrants.
Gang members are being targeted for a series of crimes, including assault, robbery and supplying drugs.
Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe believes the initiative will allow police to identify the most harmful gangs and gang members in London and “relentlessly pursue them”. “This is a step change in how we tackle gang crime in London”, he continued.
The 19 priority boroughs, which also include Lambeth and Greenwich, will have their own task forces to combat local gang crime. These boroughs have been deemed high-risk due to the prevalence of reported gangs in the areas.
Approximately 1000 officers will work in the new task forces and the central command, focusing on preventing young people from getting involved in gangs at an early age.
Hogan-Howe said: “It is vital we work with the public, local authorities, charities and other agencies to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place.”
Abiola Adesina, 33, is from one of a number of families affected by gun crime in London who are supporting this new initiative.
His sister, Agnes Sina-Inakoju, was 16 when she became an innocent victim of gang violence. She was shot by members of the London Fields Gang in a takeaway in Hoxton in April 2010 who targeted the shop believing members of rival gang ‘Hoxton Boys’ were there.
Adesina said: “People in gangs should be asked whether they want this. Do they want to live fine for a few years and then be destroyed for the rest of their life or killed?”
According to the Met, there are an estimated 250 active criminal gangs in London, comprising of about 4,800 people. Of these gangs, 62 are considered to be high-risk and commit two thirds of all gang-related crime.
According to the police these gangs are responsible for approximately 22% of all serious violence, 17% of robbery, 50% of shootings and 14% of rape in the capital.
Today, Hogan-Howe and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson will be joined by dozens of police officers, community workers, council leaders and relatives of gang crime victims to take part in a public demonstration against gang crime in London.
The demo and photo opportunity comes just days after the Old Bailey heard how Thusa Kamaleswaran, a five-year-old girl, had been left permanently paralysed after she was shot during a gang attack on a South London shop. The attack also left Roshan Selvakumar, 35, with serious injuries.
Kazeem Kolawole, 19, Anthony McCalla, 19, and Nathaniel Grant, 21, all of south London, deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and to Selvakumar, though the trial continues.
If you have any information about gang crime or those involved call Crimestoppers – an independent charity – anonymously on 0800 555111.