Met launches campaign to clamp down on the availability of illegal guns.

Determined to keep gun crime low the Met has launched a new operation, codenamed “Elie” to clamp down quickly on the availability of illegal guns and the criminals that use them.

Operation Elie aims to stop criminals having access to illegal firearms and prevent any increase in shootings, similar to that seen in London last summer as the first lockdown eased. 

Launched only eight weeks ago, Operation Elie’s officers act quickly and robustly in response to intelligence about illegal firearms in circulation. Officers have already seized 40 firearms across the capital – building on an extremely successful year of gun seizures by the Met in 2020. 

Commander Dave McLaren, who leads the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “When the restrictions were lifted last July sadly we saw the highest volume of lethal barrelled discharges since 2018. As we move out of the latest restrictions we have been working hard across London to prevent a similar spike in gun crime to that seen last year.

“The Met has thousands of dedicated and really passionate officers whose commitment to taking guns off our streets is unwavering. It’s thanks to their work that London continues to be one of the safest global cities in the world. Operation Elie is adding to that capability. Never before has this organisation worked harder to tackle gun crime and yielded some great results. Over the last four years we have seen the number of shootings reduce, the number of firearms recovered increase and the number of individuals arrested and charged increase year on year.”

Operation Elie started on Monday, 8 March and brings together different teams from across the Met to focus on gun crime in high risk areas of London. The operation is led by officers from the Viper teams, and is supported by armed officers and officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG). Based on intelligence they patrol in areas where we stand the best chance of disrupting and deterring those involved in the transportation of guns and making the streets hostile for them. 

Commander McLaren, added: “Our proactive attitude and unrelenting pursuit of lethal weapons coming into London means we have made significant headway in tackling gun crime and for nearly six months there were no fatal shootings in London [since 2 November 2020]. 

“Sadly, we’ve seen the murderous impact of guns return to our streets in recent weeks but this has only redoubled our determination to stamp down on gun crime. We created Operation Elie to bring the lessons from last year together with skills and expertise from across the Met and really bear down hard on those using guns in London.”

In 2019, a total of 366 firearms capable of a lethal discharge were seized. In 2020 that increased to 443. An increase of 74 firearms. This year (to 28 April 2021), we have seized 121 firearms capable of lethal discharge – which includes three Skorpion machine guns.

The determination with which officers will react to the threat from firearms can be seen in the arrest of David Longhor. 

Longhor, 19, from Ealing was arrested in the early hours of Monday, 2 March by specially trained firearms officers and officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command close to Chiswick Park tube station. 

In his backpack officers found two Skorpion handguns and 40 rounds of ammunition. 

Appearing at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday 22 April, Longhor pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon with intent to endanger life and one count of ammunition with intent to endanger life. When entering his plea, he claimed that he was transporting the weapons for someone else and was ‘paying off a debt’. 

He is due to be sentenced on Friday, 4 June. 

+ Since the Financial Year (FY) 2017/18 Lethal Barrelled Discharged (LBDs) have continued to decrease from 402, 391 in 2018/18, 281 in 2019/20 and 266 in FY 2020/21. At the same time Sanction Detection rates have increased from 15 per cent up to 26 per cent in 2020/21. 

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