Newham to get gang crime task force

Newham will have a dedicated crime task force to tackle gang-related crime after being identified as a “priority borough” by the Metropolitan Police.

MPS Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe targeted 19 London boroughs to launch Trident Gang Crime Commands that will see 1,000 officers dedicated to crack down on criminal groups as well as preventing and investigating shootings.

Last week [weds feb 8], dozens of suspected gang members were pursued in a series of co-ordinated operations involving hundreds of police officers.

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “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.”

According to MPS intelligence systems, there are an estimated 250 active criminal gangs in London, comprising of about 4,800 people.

Of these gangs 62 are considered as high harm and commit two thirds of all gang-related crime.

The gangs, mainly young people between 14 and 24-years-old, range from organised criminal networks involved in Class A drugs supply and firearms, to street-based gangs involved in violence and personal robbery. This relatively small number of people is responsible for approximately 22% of serious violence, 17% of robbery, 50% of shootings and 14% of rape in London.

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Commissioner Hogan-Howe emphasised that most young people are “good, law-abiding citizens”, adding: “We want to prevent young people getting involved in gang offending so we and other agencies are offering ways out to support young people. However, those who refuse our offer of help will be pursued and brought to justice.

“Getting involved in gangs can ruin a young person’s life. With a criminal record it can be harder to get a job or into further education, while being involved in violence can lead to getting arrested, sent to prison, seriously injured or even killed.

“We’re not concerned with peer groups or just friends who may ‘hang around’ and we have no intention of criminalising an entire generation. Our focus is on violence and criminal behaviour associated with gangs and gang members.”