Violent crime has reduced significantly over the past 12 months and the Metropolitan Police is determined to continue to drive it down throughout 2021.
In 2020, violent crime offences dropped by a quarter (26 per cent) across London amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of homicides also reduced to 126 compared from 150 homicides in 2019, a decline of 16 per cent.
There is a clear link between Londoners complying with stay at home restrictions and falls in some crime types, particularly those which are committed on the streets.
However, these changes in society also created opportunities for officers to target high harm offenders and infiltrate violence hot spots to detect those intent on leaving their homes to commit crime.
For certain crime types, including knife crime and knife injury (victims under 25-years-old), the declining trend began before the virus emerged.
Specialist units also achieved significant successes against organised crime groups involved in the drugs trade and associated criminality.
Commander Jane Connors, who is the Met’s lead for tackling violence, has reiterated today that the Met’s focus on suppressing violence will continue throughout 2021.
She said: “Londoners can be assured that our focus remains firmly on reducing violent crime in all its forms, protecting the public and safeguarding all of our communities.
“I am proud of the achievements of our officers and staff in bearing down on violent crime despite the challenges of the pandemic.
“Even when faced with the risk of catching the virus themselves, our officers continued to be out there on the streets.
“But we cannot continue this success alone. We need information from the public about those who commit violent acts, who carry weapons and threaten others.
“I urge anyone to share any piece of information about crime they may have. No matter how small or insignificant you think it is – it really could save someone’s life.”
In recent months, there have been a series of specialist operations focused on reducing violent crime, in addition to the work officers undertake day in, day out.
Under the banners of Operations Winter Nights, Sceptre and Pandilla, more than 3,810 suspected violent criminals were arrested, 930 weapons seized and 60 vulnerable individuals were referred to diversion schemes.
Among the Met’s dedicated resources to prevent, deter and tackle violence in all its forms is the Violent Crime Taskforce and Violence Suppression Units (VSUs) – the latter being locally embedded teams focussing solely on violent crime in our communities.
Since their launch in May, the VSUs have already made more than 3,200 arrests and seized more than 640 offensive weapons, including knives and firearms.
Drugs markets remain a major driver of violent crime and continues to be a key focus for investigators. Since November 2019, 532 county line holders and associates have been arrested, and 281 county lines have been closed.
Alongside enforcement, we understand the importance of education, prevention and diversion. We are helping young people escape a life of crime.
The Met’s Violence Intervention Unit works collaboratively with Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS) to manage individuals with violent convictions on licence and ultimately to steer them away from further violence and criminality.
Since March 2020, they have worked with more than 200 people. This team of officers also effectively use existing judicial restrictions, such as criminal behaviour orders and gang injunctions, to reduce violence in London.
In addition, other initiatives like our DIVERT programme, which focusses on working with young adults in our custody suites, has seen more than 1,000 people benefit from training, support and guidance.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our hardworking police officers have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to ensure tackling violence remains a priority. Although violence fell by a quarter last year, the tragic murder of a teenager in Islington last night shows there is still work to do. The challenge is to tackle the underlying causes to make long-term, sustained reductions in knife and violent crime – alongside police enforcement bearing down on criminals.
“London’s Violence Reduction Unit – the first in the country – has invested in supporting schools to reduce exclusion rates, increased training for youth workers and funded hundreds of activities for young people in areas of high violence. It’s encouraging to see our focus on prevention, working alongside enforcement, showing positive signs of bearing fruit.
“There are no simple solutions but I’m determined to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime to reduce violence and make our city safe for all Londoners.”
We would like to hear from anyone who has information about crime. Community intelligence can be used to great effect to not only detect, but also prevent crime and keep London safe.
If you don’t want to speak to the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They are a totally independent charity and you will remain 100 per cent anonymous – they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or the device you use. Alternatively, you can visit their website https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.