Metropolitan Police launches gang crime unit
The Metropolitan Police have announced the launch of a specialist gang crime unit of 1,000 officers [8 February 2012].
The squad, believed to be the largest of its kind in the country, will target gang-related crime in the capital.
Called the Trident Gang Crime Command, it will include officers working as part of Operation Trident, the unit which investigates gun crime in the black community.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reportedly said that up to 300 raids will be carried out by hundreds of officers across London in a bid to crack down on gang-related crime.
This morning the raids had begun and over 100 people have been arrested so far.
It is anticipated that this will lead to the arrest of many prominent gang members, believed to be in involved in a number of crimes ranging from drugs crime to assault and robbery.
The unit will also deal with incidents of shootings, in addition to taking proactive measures to tackling gang-related crime.
'Work with the public'
He added: "The bottom line is, if they're offending, then we've got to arrest them.
"This is a step-change in how we tackle gang crime in London. It will allow us to identify and relentlessly pursue the most harmful gangs and gang members. It will help us identify young people on the periphery of gangs and work with partners to divert them away.
"Although we are now nearly doubling the number of officers dedicated to tackling gang crime, the police cannot do this alone.
"It is vital we work with the public, local authorities, charities and other agencies to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place."
'Aim to stop people getting hurt'
The Commissioner made further comment: "It's not our aim to criminalise young people, our aim is to stop people getting hurt, and if you can get them out of gangs by working with partners then we will do that.
"There is an awful lot of good work going on through mentoring, through giving professional skills and getting employment for young people where we can get them away from the gangs."
The Met reportedly revealed that there are around 250 criminal gangs operating in London, with an estimated 4,800 gang members in total.
62 of these criminal gangs are deemed "high harm" and are believed to be responsible for two thirds of all gang-related crime in London.
A 'destructive life'
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "We've been attacking gangs from all angles.
"Now the Met has a concerted and determined push to take out the ring-leaders and tempt impressionable youngsters away from this destructive life.
"They [gang members] face two options; either we will persecute them and get in their faces or they can take up a traineeship. This is the way to go."
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