Armed police are to patrol Hackney and Tower Hamlets under a new Met Police push to tackle gun crime in the boroughs.
Operation Viper, launched by the Metropolitan Police, will aim to reduce gun crime in some of London’s most affected boroughs – including Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
Anti-gun crime campaigners in the boroughs welcomed the move, but stressed that education was the key to reducing shootings.
Ayse Hassan, from the charity Victim Support in east London, said: “Firearm and knife crimes shatter the lives of so many – particularly young people and their families. More must be done, by agencies and educators working in partnership, to educate people about the dangers of carrying weapons.”
Ann Oakes-Odger, Founder and CEO of KnifeCrimes.Org, said: “I believe that putting more armed police on the streets will have the effect of raising the public’s sense of security and in this respect it can only be a good thing.
“Where gun crime exists it usually has its roots linked to organised crime. Local intelligence is extremely important and forging good community relations is key…those found in possession of firearms must be seen to have the full force of the law imposed.”
Operation Viper intends to decrease the number of firearms on the streets of London. Last year, 714 firearms were recovered in London, a much higher number than in 2014, when 577 guns were seized.
Police activity in the boroughs will include high-visibility armed patrols, pro-active ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) operations, weapon sweeps, and intelligence-led stop and search.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “Firearm use is thankfully still rare in London and rarely affects those not involved in crime – but I am very concerned about the recent increase and we are determined to stop it. Our officers will use all their powers to take on the gunmen and those that supply them.”
Commander Duncan Ball, in charge of Gangs and Organised Crime, said: “We are nowhere near the levels of five years ago but it is our job to keep it that way. We are seeing that at least half of these shootings are related to drugs and we will work closely with colleagues across the Met on that.”
KnifeCrimes.org’s Oakes-Odger added: “There will always be those that make the wrong life choices but, education is key to arming young people with the information to make the ‘right’ life choices. Once someone has become involved in substance abuse and crime the downward spiral has begun, more often than not that person is ripe for recruitment by criminal gangs.
“Violence involving serious weapons becomes part of their everyday lives…unless, there is intervention.”