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Newham police trialling new tactic to find offenders and weapon stashes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 January 2019

Officers shine a torch on a makeshift crack pipe and a bullet casing found in a corner on an estate. Police carried out a more detailed sweep of the area the next day. Picture: Luke Acton.

Officers shine a torch on a makeshift crack pipe and a bullet casing found in a corner on an estate. Police carried out a more detailed sweep of the area the next day. Picture: Luke Acton.

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Police are developing new 'dynamic weapons sweeps' to find knives and catch offenders carrying them.

A spent cartridge held by a police officer after being found on an estate. Picture: Luke Acton.A spent cartridge held by a police officer after being found on an estate. Picture: Luke Acton.

Knives are often stashed for later use. Traditional weapons sweeps by two to three officers are used find these stashes.

The new ‘dynamic’ sweeps are designed to catch people carrying knives as well as locating the stashes by converging from all sides of a targeted area.

“Finding a knife in a bush is good police work, but it’s not great police work,” said Sgt Matt Gee.

The sergeant patrols multiple wards in Newham as part of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) after almost two decades on 999 response teams.

Officers from the Enforcement Partnership Team (EPT) examine potential evidence on a Canning Town estate. Picture: Luke Acton.Officers from the Enforcement Partnership Team (EPT) examine potential evidence on a Canning Town estate. Picture: Luke Acton.

“Finding the person that’s put it there or taking it out of their possession and stopping someone getting hurt is where the real result is.”

Officers are developing the technique as part of Newham police’s and the Met’s wider goal of tackling violent crime.

Newham has the third highest rate of violent crime of any London borough, with 10,771 incidents in 2018 up from 10,496 the previous year.

The tactic is being trialled by the Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) and Enforcement Partnership Team (EPT), both units in the Met.

Police and and van known as a 'carrier' outside Central Park, Newham. Picture: Luke Acton.Police and and van known as a 'carrier' outside Central Park, Newham. Picture: Luke Acton.

The Enforcement Partnership Team (EPT), about 30 officers, is paid for by the council but tasked by both the local authority and the MPS.

Both a normal weapons sweep and a dynamic one begin with information: “The Safer Neighbourhood officer will build-up the intel picture: where on the ward anti-social behaviour is happening, the times it is happening, and then we can coordinate the resources to go in and deal with it,” said Sgt Gee.

Those resources wax and wane to meet demand.

When Newham police successfully bid for them or there is a serious incident, the territorial support group and the violent crime task force also police the area.

An abandoned cupboard where weapons could be stashed. Picture: Luke Acton.An abandoned cupboard where weapons could be stashed. Picture: Luke Acton.

By trialling dynamic sweeps now, it’s hoped it will be ready to use with these units and when anti-social behaviour increases in the warmer months.

Sgt Gee wants the community will get involved, not by confronting criminals or searching the worse hole, but by making their areas safer and better understanding police work.

He wants them to come out and understand the sweeps as something to prevent crime, not as a reaction to it: “If nothing else, it’s so they can see police officers out there, actually doing it.”

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