Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Cressida Dick and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, are boosting the fight against violent crime in the capital by adding another 122 officers to the City Hall-funded Violent Crime Task Force for the next three months. The officers will temporarily move from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command. The Violent Crime Task Force is a targeted team making arrests and taking weapons off the streets in those areas of London with the highest concentrations of knife and other forms of violent crime.
The Task Force was launched in April using £15 million of additional funding from City Hall. To date, officers have made 895 arrests, carried out 1,400 weapons sweeps and removed 212 knives (as well as nearly 200 offensive weapons) from the capital’s streets. Bolstering the Task Force from its current 150 officers to 272 will allow the Met to be even more proactive on the streets of London, bearing down on violent crime and serious criminality.
The new move will give officers a greater presence in areas with high levels of violent crime, as well as allowing more intelligence-led and targeted Stop and Search, not to mention the use of specialists in covert tactics. The Task Force seeks to target dangerous offenders and provide local officers with speedy and accurate intelligence to take them off the streets.
Sadiq Khan said: “This is drastic action that I would rather we didn’t have to take, but the Government’s persistent refusal to give our police service the funding it desperately needs has left with us with no choice. The level of violent crime in London is unacceptably high. As well as setting up the new dedicated Violent Crime Task Force to focus on those areas worst affected, I’m bringing together the Met Police with local councils, charities, community groups and others to work on a public health approach towards tackling knife crime. We’ve created a new £45 million Young Londoners Fund to provide young people with positive alternatives to crime and to help those caught up in gangs to gain employment and begin training.”
Complex causes of criminality
The Mayor continued: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve culture, community, gangs, drugs, poverty and a lack of opportunities. They’ve been made much worse by the Government’s huge cuts to the Metropolitan Police Service and youth services across our city, resulting in police numbers falling to their lowest level in 20 years. Cuts really do have consequences.”
The Roads and Transport Policing Command is the largest police unit in the UK, made up of more than 2,300 police officers and Police Community Support Officers.
This is a short-term initiative, with the Roads and Transport Policing Command seeking to mitigate any temporary impact on staffing numbers through back-filling posts in key areas and focus effort in other areas, such as reducing road danger.
The Mayor added: “I want to reassure Londoners that moving officers from the Roads and Transport Policing Command is only a temporary measure. The Met will work to minimise the impact of their transfer. Policing our roads remains a key priority.”