Police release images of 20 males as operation autumn nights targets crime in Newham

The police have released the images of 20 males wanted in connection with robberies across Newham.

The release of the pictures comes in the middle of a police crackdown on robbery, violent crime and anti-social behaviour – dubbed operation autumn nights – timed to target a seasonal spike in offences.

Officers want to speak to the suspects in relation to robberies carried out between August 2019 and August 2020.

Insp Malcolm Gillespie from the borough’ neighbourhood policing team, warned perpetrators in general: “If you are out there committing robberies and violent crime, we’ll find you and bring you to justice.”

So far autumn nights has resulted in 12 arrests for offences including drugs, theft and handling stolen goods. Officers have seized cash and illegal substances.

Two knives were found near the Disraeli Road junction with Romford Road while two bikes were recovered in a police action focused on the use of Santander Cycles by criminals.

And anyone intent on committing a crime or anti-social behaviour between Bonfire Night and November 8 may have the Met’s violent crime task force and extra neighbourhoods patrols at their heels.

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The annual, London-wide operation started on October 19 and comes as the nights grow longer. Halloween and Bonfire Night usually see increased anti-social behaviour too.

However, overall crimes are down compared to previous years, due to restrictions brought in to counter the coronavirus pandemic, but also thanks to police action, according to Insp Gillespie.

Acts of violence resulting in injury over the last 12 months have dropped, but hotspots around the Stratford Centre and High Street North in East Ham have seen robberies pick up with criminals targeting mobile phones and bikes especially.

However, Insp Gillespie stressed Newham does not have a huge problem with robbery. The operation is happening all over the borough.

“It’s not just Stratford, though there’s added focus there. We will be going to Custom House, to Beckton. We’ve got good links with the community down there. Officers know our anti-social behaviour hotspots and where violent crime takes place,” he said.

Letting off fireworks in streets and gangs gathering in neighbourhoods are among the behaviour officers want to stamp out.

On whether more action is needed to control the sale of fireworks, Insp Gillespie said: “Something should be done.

“They seem to get into the hands of youngsters quite easily. We have licensing officers and cadets who do test purchasing. It’s a long term problem we need to look at.”

By law, you can only buy so-called adult fireworks if you’re 18 or older. It’s against the law for anyone to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am apart from on certain occasions.

But Insp Gillespie was keen to stress that working and talking to youngsters is part of the solution as well as teaming up with communities through neighbourhood watch and ward panels.

This year’s crackdown has seen officers working extra hours with shifts timed to focus overt and covert operations on the key periods of late afternoon through to early morning.

“Lockdown will have an impact too. That should keep people off the streets. We’re hoping to see the same level of compliance this lockdown. It’s a different time of year,” Insp Gillespie said.

In the police service for 14 years, Insp Gillespie met the Recorder in a sunny and calm Stratford Park, which has seen its fair share of anti-social behaviour and crime over the years, including drug dealing.

But the inspector explained that following police action people now feel it is a safer place to visit and have written to the service to say so.

At the moment 44 criminal behaviour orders are winding their way through the courts relating to incidents in and around the park.

“Robbery, violence, threats can affect people a lot. It’s traumatic for victims. We want people to feel they can come out and enjoy places like this. We want to support them.

“People come here and enjoy it. If we can mirror this across Newham, that would be perfect.”

If you recognise any of the males call 101 or report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.