Cannabis seized by police as part of the operation (credit: Met Police)
Officers from the East Area BCU, which covers the three boroughs, carried out 23 warrants in the past week, focusing on ‘street dealers’.
Ten raids were carried out in Havering, eight in Redbridge, and four in Barking and Dagenham.
The other warrant was in north-west London.
The five days of activity resulted in the arrest of 21 males and two females within an age range of 17–48 years.
All 23 were interviewed at east London police stations and 14 have been released on bail to return on a date in late July, eight remain in custody and one person was released with no further action.
“All of those warrants have sought to tackle drug supply and violent crime across the BCU,” said Acting Detective Inspector Luke Hampton, who coordinated the warrants. “We recognise that there is a key link between drug dealing and a lot of the violence that is occurring so by tackling the drug supply, we hope not only to impact on that but also to impact on the violence that we have on East Area.
“Violence is one of the Met’s key priorities and that’s something we know that all our communities are concerned about and we like to try and address those concerns.
“In the course of those operations, we’ve seized drugs that we estimate to be near £50,000 in value. We’ve seized a number of weapons and some large quantities of cash”
The weapons taken off the streets include firearms, combat knives, CS Spray, and tasers, while two cannabis factories in Ilford have been dismantled.
Acting DI Hampton said: “We’re hopeful that we’re sending a message to people not only on the three borough but also off the boroughs saying do not come to Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, or Havering because we will look to pursue you and target you and put you before the courts if you commit drug- or violent-related crime.
“For the communities that are affected by this, we are hopeful that this shows our positive energy in reducing crime across the three boroughs and of course we want to make the area as safe a place as possible for people to live, work, visit, and bring up their families.”
This week’s action targeted the street dealers who are at the bottom of the chain of those involved in the supply of drugs and organised crime.
Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers told Time 107.5: “This is the first stage of what will be an ongoing pursuit of those organised crime groups and gangs. We’re hoping to start from the bottom where we target that street level activity.
“The more we can dismantle that street dealing and street violence, the greater the impact on those organised crime groups which quite clearly cause significant harm and upset to families across the boroughs.
“We will continue to pursue and target those concerned in the supply of drugs and those concerned in causing violence across our boroughs. We want people to know that they cannot travel into Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, or Havering to supply drugs or be concerned in violence.”
In recent years, police have changed the approach they are taking towards dealing with violent crime and the supply of drugs.
As well as taking enforcement action, DSI Trevers says they are now working to try and help those involved by engaging with them and trying to intervene at an earlier stage, giving the dealers the opportunity to turn their lives around before falling into a life of crime.
DSI Trevers said: “The engagement comes in a number of elements. I have a very brilliant Gangs Engagement Team with some dedicated individuals who are absolutely committed to work with not only those young people who are caught in crime but their families, their parents, their brothers, sisters and loved ones, and offer any number of opportunities where they can take themselves away from a criminal lifestyle.
“That work is in some really good consultation with local authority partners and the charity sector so this is not just the police seeking to take people away from crime. We’ve got a wonderful partnership where we’re offering individuals bespoke opportunities to improve their life.
“The police is ordinarily recognised as an enforcement agency. What we’re trying to do here, to protect those families from the effects of violence and drugs, is to prevent those incidents from happening in the first place.
“By working with those young people, we’re confident we can prevent them from committing crime, prevent them from falling into that criminal lifestyle, prevent them from falling into those coercive behaviours that we now recognise as gang activity and actually take them and put them on a journey where they can improve their lives.”
In the last six weeks, officers from the East Area BCU have identified 56 people believed to be at risk of violence, or being connected to violent offending. All have been offered the chance to access support to leave drug and gang culture.
Detective Constable Anoushka Dunic, who specialises in diversion and community support, said: “We work closely with Lifeline Projects, ensuring young people who may need extra support are provided with mentoring and a new and positive focus in their lives. We also offer free parent support groups, which are currently run online with Lifeline Switch.
“Although enforcement is an important part of what we do, there will always be a need for support and diversion so that any young people who find themselves involved in crime and want to distance from it, can be signposted to a support facility that can help them develop a realistic and workable exit strategy.
“We also provide Gangs and Exploitation awareness sessions to parents to help them have an understanding of the pressures and risks that their child may be exposed to. We know that to support young people, we must support parents too.
“I work collaboratively with partnership colleagues to raise awareness and promote what help is available to young people involved in crime and their families, and have seen first-hand the difference that lifestyle changes can have on their way of life and their future prospects. Future Youth Zone in Dagenham, is one of the fantastic facilities in our area which can provide positive experiences and support for young people.
“The next event for parents of youngsters involved in crime is on Thursday, 2 July at 8pm on Zoom. We understand that it can be overwhelming to “come along” to a group, even online, but please be assured that the groups are safe and engaging and have proven to be a great source of comfort for many parents who benefit from sharing their own or listening to other parent’s experiences. If you want to take part please email me at Anoushka.Dunic@met.police.uk.”
It is hoped that this action can put an end to the violence associated with drug supply that, sometimes, spills over and affects innocent members of the community.
With 149 people killed across Greater London in 2019, the police are aware of the concern from the public about the level of violence that is gripping our streets.
They hope they can rely on the support of members of the local community to inform them of anything suspicious.
A/DI Hampton said: “A lot of the warrants that we’ve executed this week have specifically been in response to community-led intelligence and concerns raised by the communities and we’d be keen to encourage all of our communities to continue to provide us with intelligence, to continue to raise their concerns and report them to us, safe in the knowledge that we will take action.”
DSI Trevers added: “While this week is a high intensity week of action, we’ve got a very clear plan, working with the local authority partners and the charity sector whereby we want to continue this work, both of enforcement and engagement and intervention.
“We’ve created a ‘violence suppression unit’ which currently consists of three sergeants and 16 police constables. Their number one focus is to target violent offenders and reduce violence across all three boroughs.
“They’ve had some really positive results in the early days. They’ve had well over 100 arrests for all sorts of offences including violence, weapon offences and drug supply. Such is the positive impact I believe they’re having on the safety of the community, we’re increasing that team by a further one detective sergeant and six detective constables as of Monday, when we will become even more sophisticated in our longer-term more covert approach to eradicating violence.”
Three people have been charged as a result of this week’s action.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday, 23 June during a stop and search in Barking and Dagenham and was subsequently charged with being in possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a Class B drug.
Two men, aged 39 and 40, were arrested on Wednesday, 24 June in Redbridge. Both have since been charged with possession with intent to supply Class B drugs and money laundering.
You can hear more on this story, including our exclusive interview with DSI Trevers and A/DI Hampton in the news bulletins on Time 107.5 tomorrow (Saturday, 27 June)
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “The public play a huge role in helping to both prevent and detect crime. We need their help to identify those willing to commit terrible acts and carry weapons. We need to hear from anyone who has information about a crime, or about someone they suspect to be carrying a weapon or involved in violent or drug related crime.
“If you don’t want to speak to the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They are a totally independent charity and you remain 100 per cent anonymous, they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or device you use. Alternatively, visit their website crimestoppers-uk.org.”
The MPS has also shared information about accessing support and diversion services.
FUTURE YOUTH ZONE is a diversionary referral for young people who need positive experiences and activities to help them realise their full potential. For more information visit www.futureyouthzone.org/
Gavin Evans, of Future Youth Zone, said: “Future Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham gives young people a safe and affordable place to go to in their leisure time. We are open seven days a week, 52 weeks a year with over 20 activities on offer each night.
“The Youth Zone provides a safe environment where young people can have fun, socialise with their peers and gives young people the opportunity to raise their aspirations and confidence.”
PARENTS: If you would like to take part in the FREE ‘Gangs and Exploitation Awareness programmes for Parents’, please contact DC Anoushka Dunic in the Gangs Engagement Team by email at Anoushka.Dunic@met.police.uk.
SW!TCH Lives gives young people at risk of involvement in serious youth violence the opportunity to turn their lives around. Schools, professionals and parents can refer young people to our specially trained mentors who meet with the young people on a regular basis. Through mentoring of positive activities and to be the change they want to see in the world by helping others, as we invest in them as leaders. SWITCH Lives is run by LifeLine Projects. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0208 597 2900.Havering, Redbridge, Dagenham, Ilford, Barking, Barking and Dagenham
© TIME107.5fm 2015-2020. All rights reserved.