Boris Johnson visited Vauxhall railway station yesterday evening where he met police officers involved in Operation Blunt 2, the Met’s anti-knife crime initiative.
With schools on half term officers are deploying a range of tactics to keep young people safe in the capital, including deploying knife screening arches and the use of the force’s Air Support Unit to film “key hotspots” including town centres and parks. The resulting live footage is then fed back to the Met’s Central Control Complex from where officers can be quickly deployed.
Figures issued by City Hall yesterday show that more than 18,000 arrests have been made since Operation Blunt 2 was launched in May 2008 resulting in more than 9,500 knives being seized.
Paying tribute the Met’s efforts, Mayor Johnson said: “Knife crime is well below the levels it was two years ago when we launched Operation Blunt 2 to fight the terrible scourge of knives on London’s streets. A huge amount has been achieved, with more than 9,500 knives seized and 18,000 arrests in the last two years, for which the police deserve enormous praise. But we know more work is needed to keep Londoners safe. That’s why we are doing all we can to tackle both the symptoms and the longer term causes of knife crime and violence amongst young people.”
The Mayor was joined by Kit Malthouse AM, MPA Chair and Mayoral advisor on policing. Asked whether high profile police deployments may frighten some Londoners or create the wrong perceptions of crime levels, Mr Malthouse said he wanted the public to be reassured by the presence of officers and that it was important to take action which could potentially save lives.
Malthouse also said more could be done to break down barriers between the force and the public, for example by officers greeting members of the public as they patrolled the streets.
Also joining the Mayor was Deputy Met Commissioner Tim Godwin who said the force was “grateful for all the local support we are getting” in tackling knife crime.
DC Godwin said that despite the successes “there are still too many young people carrying knives, which has already caused a number of young people to lose their lives” and cautioned that “changing behaviours and attitudes requires a long term approach by other agencies rather than solely relying on police enforcement operations.”