Estate residents join in on weapon sweeps

A 15-inch machete was uncovered during the latest search by residents and local faith leaders Pic: Tower Hamlets MPS – Twitter

Tower Hamlets police are calling on residents to help get weapons off the street.

 Officers have launched a recruitment scheme to get local residents and faith leaders to participate in sweeps of estates and parks to search for weapons hidden by gangs and criminals.

Searchers during the latest sweep in Poplar discovered a 15-inch-long machete, three hammers, and a knife.

Detective Inspector Chris Soole of Tower Hamlets CID said the initiative emphasises that violent crime “is not just a police problem, it is everyone’s problem”.

“We have found knives every time we have conducted these. This is a highly visible stand against knife crime,” Soole added.

The partnership is the first of its kind in London and the council said it is likely that similar initiatives could be implemented across the capital to fight knife crime. Tower Hamlets Police said that they recruit for the searches by knocking on doors of local estates.

Soole said: “We ask people if they want to get involved, give them a safety briefing and tell them what to do if they find weapons. We are getting a really good response. We had three youths who asked what we were doing recently and they wanted to help, which is encouraging.

Borough commander Sue Williams added: “The great thing about these searches is that they involve our communities. It means we are all working together to take knives off of the streets.”

Hunters in the latest sweep off Poplar High Street also found a baseball bat and bits of scaffolding that officers say could be used as lethal weapons.

Shadwell Councillor Rabina Khan said the searches help residents retake ownership of Tower Hamlets streets.

“There is only so much the police can do on their own. We have to set an example and get local people involved. It shows that we care about our neighbourhood and streets and are not prepared to put up with drugs and knife crime.

“This sends out such a strong message on the estates. I can see this happening across London,” Khan said.

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