As part of a series of London-wide dawn raids
Operation Connect - a major new Met-wide initiative to crack down on violence driven by gang culture , involved a large number of Met Police officers targeted 20 addresses in Wandsworth Borough to arrest individuals involved in drug supplying, serious violence and other offences associated with gang activity.
So far 17 suspects have been arrested for offences including Conspiracy to Supply Class A controlled drugs and Possession with Intent to Supply. They are being held at a South London Police station.
Detective Superintendent Gerry Campbell said,
“I am delighted with the success of this operation so far. Police in Wandsworth are committed to listening and responded to the concerns of our local people and we are dedicated to making the Borough a safer place to live, work and socialise in. We will work with other specialists within the Met Police to achieve this, whilst working effectively with local people, the local authority and other statutory agencies.
“We will continue to work together to identify, arrest and seek the prosecution of those people who deal in drugs and otherwise cause harm within our community. I need the continued help of local people to do this. I would encourage anyone with information about crimes being committed to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact a local Safer Neighbourhoods officer."
Police will consider pursuing eviction orders with local housing officer colleagues against properties where Class A drug use was detected. The Met’s new Operation Connect unit has been charged with analyising information from across the force’s intelligence system along with information from partners and communities in order to produce the first ever centralised MPS database of the most harmful gang members in London – with the number of 'high risk ' individuals identified from intelligence analysis and crime mapping likely to top 1,000.
Intelligence collated by the Connect unit from the Met as well as key partners such as local councils, health authorities and schools will then be shared to ensure that resources are targeted against those individuals that are the greatest threat. Officers will be encouraged to use a wide range of enforcement methods to disrupt criminal activities - from seizing financial assets and uninsured vehicles to taking out ‘gang injunctions’.
Operation Connect will also assist local policing teams to identify opportunities for intervention both with youngsters who want to leave gangs and those on the peripheries at risk of getting involved in them, helping them to access specialist existing Met support and referring them to partner schemes run by external agencies.
MPS Territorial Policing Commander Steve Rodhouse, said:
“Today’s raids demonstrate our determination to continue to dismantle gang networks that are responsible for a disproportionate amount of criminality in London. They also send out a clear message that drug dealing, which can fuel many other gang-related activities, will not be tolerated. Operation Connect will help support boroughs in the good work they are already doing to ensure that we are identifying, targeting and tracking the most dangerous offenders linked to gang violence – and where appropriate, helping them access the support to leave that lifestyle behind for good. We also want to try and prevent vulnerable youngsters, eg siblings of those already in gangs, from getting drawn into gang-related activities in the first place.
“However those unwilling to stop their involvement in these criminal networks should know that we will target them in future operations. The vast majority of young people are law-abiding and we will relentlessly pursue the small minority affiliated to gangs that intimidate and cause misery and fear to the wider community.”
Op Connect will also act as a channel for other existing Met diversion schemes aimed at those associated with gangs, such as Healthy Relationships Training (HEART) - designed to reducing the risk of young females committing or being subject to gang-related and sexual violence and Safe and Secure – a relocation scheme for youngsters who need to move from their home in order to leave gangs.
It will also facilitate the roll out of initiatives from other agencies, such as ‘Medics Against Violence’ and the Mayor's Mentoring Scheme for young black males.
Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of Policing said:
"Operation Connect will send a shiver down the spines of drug dealers and gang members, and put a smile on the face of those whom they terrorise. Londoners want these nasty criminals rounded up and the kids they lead astray to be shown an alternative path.
"That is what Connect will deliver: hammering gang leaders and then diverting youngsters away from crime. Today's operation, for which we thank the brave women and men of the Met, is just the start of a sustained campaign to eradicate violent gangs across the capital. There is more to come. So if you're dealing drugs and luring kids into gangs, listen carefully for that 5am knock."
Existing MPS intelligence shows that 88 percent of London’s gangs are involved in violence and 80 percent in street level drug dealing. Individuals who have links to gangs are believed to be responsible for 16 percent of London’s total drug supply, nearly a fifth of stabbings, half of all shootings and 14 percent of all rapes.
April 7, 2011