Police team up with community to search for hidden weapons in Ilford town centre
PUBLISHED: 09:41 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 22 January 2018
Hiding places for knives and weapons in Redbridge are running out with police officers and residents on patrol.
The Recorder joined officers and volunteers on a weapons sweep in Ilford town centre on Thursday, January 18.
Community weapons sweeps have been taking place under the umbrella of Operation Sceptre - which aims to tackle spiralling knife crime in London - with 7,600 sweeps carried out since the operation’s re-launch in April.
Sgt Caroline Clark led the sweep from Clements Road to the Kenneth More Theatre, including the parking area in Janice Mews, through the Mildmay Road underpass and along Winston Way.
She said: “The aim of the sweep is to get together with the local community and to send out a really strong message that we are anti-knife crime.
“To start looking for weapons, making sure that those people that might stash weapons are aware that we may come across them.”
As well as knives, police are also on look out for ‘intended weapons’ - which describes items not built for causing harm but are used to do so.
This includes baseball bats, bicycle spokes, metal chains, hammers, tools, wooden handles, belts with heavy buckles, sharpened poles stuck vertically into ground, stashed for a later gang fight or attack.
In this instance, no knives or obvious intended weapons were found.
Redbridge Enforcement Officer Lee Williams uncovered a metal rod stashed inside bedding left behind the Kenneth More Theatre.
”The weapons sweeps can be very effective. Its a bit of a luck of the draw. Sometimes we come across quite a few items. It’s mainly about the message that we send,” Sgt Clark added.
Officers also drew attention to the abundance of broken bottles which could easily be used for violent purposes.
PC Lee Smart said: “From our point of view if everyone within the borough of Redbridge took responsible steps to deposit their litter - especially that could be used in a violent way - it would help hugely.
“I’m talking about poles, fence panels with nails in, glass bottles.”
Weapons searches are open to anyone to participate in, with the next due to take place in March.