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The Violence Suppression Unit (VSU) led on a two-day surge of activity in London, made up of Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Havering boroughs, to bear down on violence and robbery

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On Thursday, 4 and Friday, 5 February officers were proactively looking for high harm offenders, conducting weapon sweeps and engaging with the community.

The VSUs were supported by other teams across the Met including the RPTC Road Crime Team, Firearms Command – Trojan Proactive Unit, Dog Section, Mounted Branch, RPTC Tasking Team, British Transport Police and Safer Neighbourhood officers and focused on the Ilford, Ilford Lane, Barking and Valentine’s Park areas. The Multi-Agency Tasking (MAT) Team, a proactive unit based around Ilford Town Centre, took part and worked with London Borough of Redbridge Enforcement Officers and other council departments to solve local issues.

The VSUs were established in May 2020 to tackle street violence in London. The units are now implemented on each BCU and use various pro-active tactics to target violent offenders and violent crime hotspots.

The operation resulted in:

  • 13 arrests for offences such as possession with the intent to supply class A drugs, possession of offensive weapons and grievous bodily harm
  • Seven weapons seized from 10 weapon sweeps
  • A quantity of drugs, more than £5,000 in cash and seven cars seized
  • 50 individuals were reported for consideration for a Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for breaching coronavirus regulations

On Friday, 5 February, officers stopped a car on Victoria Road, Barking after it was notably avoiding police. Officers searched the driver a found a knife hidden in his waistband and fraudulent documents inside the car, he was arrested and later charged.

Later that evening, another vehicle activated an ANPR camera for being reported as stolen. The car was stopped and checks revealed the driver was wanted for burglary, grievous bodily harm, possession with the intent to supply class A drugs and dangerous driving.

Sergeant Nick Hancock of the East Area VSU said: “This two-day operation has been a real team effort across the Met and produced great results, working together to achieve our priority of bearing down on violence. Thanks to everyone who took part, including our colleagues from British Transport Police.

“The use of ANPR helped us identify vehicles of interest and prevent criminals using the road networks as a means to carry out illegal activity. We arrested a number of high harm offenders and prevented them from causing further damage to the communities in which they live and carry out crime.

“Areas affected by violence and robbery blight the lives of local residents. We are out there every day working to make London a safer place for communities but this surge of activity has helped accelerate that. Our efforts will continue throughout 2021.

“We cannot do this alone. We need to hear from who has information, no matter how small. Please contact us in confidence or through the independent charity Crimestoppers, it is 100 per cent anonymous.”

Polce need to hear from anyone who has information about crime, those who carry a weapon, or those who exploit others for gain or revenge while putting young people’s lives at risk.

Community intelligence can be used to great effect to not only detect, but also prevent crime, keep London safe and save young lives. If you don’t want to speak to the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They are a totally independent charity and you will remain 100% anonymous – they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or the device you use. Alternatively, visit their website https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.

If you are worried about someone you suspect may be carrying a knife or other weapon, advice and support is also available through organisations including Knife Free https://www.knifefree.co.uk/get-help-support/ and Fearless: https://www.fearless.org/en.