The Havering Daily was able to join the Violent Suppression Unit out on patrol and see all the amazing work they do across our communities for ourselves.
Formed during the height of the pandemic to tackle street violence on a local level, the Met’s Violence Suppression Units (VSU) have made their presence felt since their launch.
In their first year of operation, they have taken 1,142 weapons off the streets, seized £1.5million in cash that has come from criminality and made 6,031 arrests for violent offences.
Formed in May 2020, some of their success include the seizure of a kilo of heroin following a long-term investigation in Islington, the recovery of a loaded firearm following a stop and search in Walworth and the arrest of suspects in connection with a stabbing in Tottenham after they fled the scene and went to ground.
We joined a team in Barkingside that covered all of the East Area ground. The team are tasked with targeting any type of violent crime including knife crime, gang intervention and other high priority street crime.
Officers were taking part in Operation Sceptre that concentrates on tackling knife crime and educating the wider public and young people about the dangers of carrying a knife and what it can lead to. This type of proactive policing can deter people from getting involved in criminality and provide them appropriate advice and support.
When out on patrol we visited many parts of the borough including Ardleigh Green to undertake knife sweeps and stop and search. The officers worked non stop across the streets of east London ,focusing on many key areas and undertaking pro active policing.
The VSUs are made up of local officers who are solely based in their geographic area, making them alive to specific issues and allowing them to build vital relationships. They are a proactive unit who identify and target the most serious offenders and tackle the key drivers of violence.
In one year of operating, they have had tremendous success:
– 6,031 arrests made for violent offences including: robbery, GBH and murder;
– 1,142 knives and weapons seized;
– 81 firearms recovered;
– 1,256 warrants carried out;
– £1.5million in cash from criminality confiscated;
– 3,000 weapon sweeps carried out.
The goal behind this activity is to prevent more people getting harmed. We also recognise that some people who are involved in violence can also be victims themselves and we are doing everything we can to support people down different paths. The VSUs work with DIVERT, the Met’s diversion programme to prevent young people reoffending, lead them away from violence and crime and into employment, education and training.
In the lead up to the anniversary, 12 activity days took place in a surge of efforts to apprehend violent offenders. They were joined by the Violence Reduction Unit’s Young People’s Action Group, who were given an insight into the teams and had open discussions with officers about how they are working to increase trust and confidence and prevent serious youth violence.
Commander Alex Murray, Met lead for violent crime, said:“The Violence Suppression Units were launched at the start of the pandemic and have been policing London during unprecedented times. The VSU teams have such passion for bearing down on violent crime and are an investment into local policing working alongside the communities they serve.
“Bearing down on violence in our capital is the number one priority of everyone in the Met. The VSUs work day and night, seven days a week to do exactly that. I hope the public feel reassured to hear more about dedicated teams whose job it is to proactively reduce violent crime and feel safer in London because of it.
“We recognise that policing is only a part of what is takes to stop violence. We work in partnership with the Violence Reduction Units, schools, families and other agencies so that together, as Londoners, we can prevent more people getting hurt.
“The results speak for themselves, however, we are not complacent and these efforts will continue, but we also need the public to help us in the fight against violence. If anyone has information on violent crime, no matter how small, we need to hear about it. If you don’t want to speak to police, the independent charity Crimestoppers can help you.”