NEWS
08/02/2012 09:41 GMT

Gang Crime Crackdown In London Sees 121 Arrests, Heroin And Cocaine Seized (PICTURES)

London police have arrested 121 people and seized a stash of heroin and cocaine as part of a major crackdown on gang crime, which will see the force double its resources to fight gang violence.

Hundreds of Metropolitan Police officers conducted a series of raids on properties on Wednesday in a bid to track down and arrest suspected gang members believed to be involved in crimes including assault, robbery and drugs supply.

At a press conference at New Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that as of mid-morning, 109 warrants had been made resulting in 121 arrests for offences including the supply and possession of drugs and gang-related violence.

Half a kilogram of heroin and a "large amount" of cash were seized from an address in Southwark and a kilogram of heroin, crack cocaine and £10,000 cash was taken in Bexleyheath, with four arrests made there, Rowley said.

The Met Police's Twitter account has been posting continual updates of arrests made, as well as pictures of seized weapons, including handguns.

They also show officers raiding properties and making arrests.

The criminals are believed to be involved in crimes including assault, robbery and drugs supply.

At a press conference at New Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that as of mid-morning, 109 warrants had been made resulting in 121 arrests for offences including the supply and possession of drugs and gang-related violence.

Scotland Yard revealed it has now committed 1,000 dedicated officers to fighting the problem, with the creation of the central Trident gang command and 19 new task forces to deal with local gang crime in problem boroughs across London.

The major operation, spearheaded by the Met's newly-formed Trident Gang Crime Command, marks what senior officers have described as a "step change" in the way the force tackles gangs.

Operation Trident was originally set up in 2000 to tackle gun crime in black communities across the capital and has gradually grown over the past decade.

Under the unit's expanded new remit it will retain the responsibility of investigating shootings, but also work alongside the borough task forces to proactively tackle gang crime, the Met said.

It will also have access to specialist resources including Operation Connect - the MPS unit set up to tackle violence driven by gang culture - and the Serious and Organised Crime Command.

There are an estimated 250 active criminal gangs in London, comprising about 4,800 people, mostly aged between 18 and 24, police said.

Of these gangs, 62 are considered as "high harm" and commit two-thirds of all gang-related crime, according to the Met.

The Met Police raid houses as part of their crackdown on gang crime

The force added that gangs, ranging from organised criminal networks involved in Class A drugs supply and firearms to street-based gangs involved in violence and personal robbery, are responsible for approximately 22% of serious violence, 17% of robbery, 50% of shootings and 14% of rape in London.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Cundy, commander for the new Trident gang crime command, said: "Since its launch in 2000, Trident has developed its expertise in combating shootings in London, and in recent years Trident has become more and more focused on tackling gangs across London.

"Today sees the Met building on the proven successes of Trident and other units.

"This new approach is a significant change for Trident as it now leads the Met's response to gang crime, but rest assured Trident will remain focused on preventing and investigating all shootings in London, regardless of the victim's or perpetrator's background."

By midday police said a further 35 warrants had been executed and 37 more arrests made.

Two people were arrested in Barnet on suspicion of possession of a firearm, and a handgun was recovered and two rounds of ammunition found nearby.

Around £4,000 was seized during the same raid and the suspects were further arrested for money laundering, police said.

Rowley said the Met would spend £60 million on tackling gang-related crime this year and added that the crackdown would see officers taking a more "consistent approach" in tackling the problem.

"Part of it is about intelligence and tough enforcement," he said. "But we are under no illusion that enforcement will solve it alone."