Knives, guns and swords recovered along with more than 20 arrests in drug dealing crackdown across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering
PUBLISHED: 17:44 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:44 26 June 2020
An undercover intelligence operation targeting drug dealing and violence has led to 23 arrests across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering.
A total of 23 arrest warrants were carried out at residential addresses leading to the arrest of 21 males and two females aged 17 to 48 between Monday 22 and Friday, June 26.
Officers seized an estimated £50,000 worth of Class A and B drugs, alongside weapons including three guns, CS spray, swords, knives and a taser.
Two cannabis factories in Ilford were also shut down and dismantled.
The 23 were interviewed at east London police stations. In total, 14 have been released on bail to return on a date in late July, eight remain in custody and one person was released with no further action.
The operation — planned and executed within a two-week window — is the first for a newly-formed Violence Suppression Unit (VSU), created as part of the East Area Basic Command Unit (BCU) which polices the three boroughs.
Det Supt Paul Trevers of the East Area Command said the unit has been created to “relentlessly and proactively crack down on violence”, in a bid to make Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering “safer than ever”.
Det Supt Trevers explained the operation — headed up by Det Sgt Luke Hampton — was the product of “compiling solid evidence against drug dealers prior to arrest”. Something he says will improve the chances of defendants being brought to court.
Det Sgt Hampton said: “Those targeted in the warrants are concerned in the street dealing strand of drug supply which as we know contributes to violence across our three boroughs.
“The warrants we have conducted will have a positive impact on the quality of life for communities by seriously disrupting the supply of drugs and the significant amount of Class A and Class B substances seized will now not be sold on our streets.”
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Both officers say the successful operation is just the start for the unit, which as of next week will have a further detective sergeant and six detective constables to add to its ranks, which currently include one detective inspector, three sergeants and 16 police constables.
Though its primary function is to challenge violence, Det Super Trevers says the unit also promotes “engagement and diversion”.
“Running alongside enforcement, we have a major focus on intervention, identifying opportunities to intervene with young people and or their families who want to remove themselves from a criminal lifestyle,” he said.
“We offer access to support directly and through partner scheme referrals run by external agencies. In this week’s activity we have offered each and every one of those arrested help and access to support, to leave that lifestyle behind for good, led by the Gangs Engagement Team,” he added.
The command, in the words of the superintendent, “would rather prevent than solve crime”, a desire which underpins its dual approach.
However, neither he nor Det Sgt Hampton will shy away from clamping down on crime.
The latter is clear: “Drug dealers are not wanted or welcome in our boroughs. Anyone who thinks it is okay to deal drugs will not find this a peaceful place to live.
“We will make use of every available resource in order to find you, arrest you and place you before the courts.”
Det Supt Trevers said this week’s activity proves the virtue of intelligence-led operations and proactive policing.
“As the arrest results clearly show, proactive operations of this type often yield far more than the intended targets with a number of additional arrests for violent offences having been made along the way,” he said.
Of the warrants conducted, 10 were in Havering, eight in Redbridge and four in Barking and Dagenham.
An additional warrant — related to an offence which took place in Havering — was executed at an address in north-west London.
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