Operation Summer COB: Behind the scenes on a police knife sweep

Newham police out on their knife sweep around Stratford station

Newham police out on their knife sweep around Stratford station - Credit: Archant

Being invited to shadow police officers feels exciting. Watching them root around branches and beer cans under a railway footbridge, less so.

The work is dirty, but the Met hopes it will help reduce crime on public transport.

On Friday, the Recorder joined the latest effort in Operation Summer COB (Cops on Buses), a cross-borough initiative mixing uniformed patrols, plainclothes police work and weapons searches along the transport network.

I arrive at Stratford Police Station just before 11am. About 15 officers, including a specialist search team, are to conduct patrols at two drug-dealing hotspots.

After a short briefing, I set out with my guide for the day, Pc Dan Wright.

We head for the junction between Jupp Road and Kennard Road. With Westfield Stratford City nearby and patchy CCTV coverage, the footbridge makes a handy escape route for criminals looking to slip away into the Carpenters estate.

“We found a crowbar and knives in the area two months ago,” said Pc Wright, pointing out the bushes where gangs can stash weapons and drugs.

Most Read

Officers seized an imitation firearm in a recent search, he added.

While two community support officers hand out leaflets on reporting crime, the search team rakes over broken bottles, crisp packets and a blue and white striped mattress littering the plants beneath the bridge.

They find a syringe, credit card and a small quantity of self-seal bags.

So, was Operation Summer COB working?

“Across the eastern boroughs we’ve seen 83 arrests,” Pc Wright tells me. “They’ve ranged from attempted robbery and theft.”

He credited the operation, which launched in July, with an 8.6 per cent reduction in crime across the bus network, or 208 fewer incidents.

Next stop, Stratford Park. Officers set up a metal scanner known as a ‘knife arch’, which stops “a few people with cannabis, but no knives,” said Wright.

I leave at 1.30pm with nothing much to report. Maybe that’s a good thing.