London deploys 300 extra police in response to spike in violent crime
Met has opened 55 murder inquiries so far this year with gun, knife crime rates soaring
Flowers and tributes were left for Israel Ogunsola (18) who was stabbed to death this week while cycling to a friend’s house in Hackney, London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (centre) walks with officers through Stoke Newington in north London after a recent spate of gang violence in which several teenagers died. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.
Some 300 extra officers are being deployed in London in response to a recent spike in violent crime in the city with the chief of the Metropolitan Police insisting the force had not lost control of the English capital’s streets.
The move comes as figures show the force has opened 55 murder investigations in London this year and after six non-fatal stabbings between Thursday night and Friday morning in the city. The rise in violent crime means the number of suspected murders in London in March was higher than in New York.
Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said stop-and-search powers were not being exercised enough by police in the fight against violent crime. She said a backlash against the controversial powers had gone too far while rates of gun and knife crime have surged.
“This power may have been used too freely in the past, but the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction,” she said in an article in the Daily Telegraph. “Our officers must know that we back them to use their powers — lawfully and respectfully, but with confidence.”
Ms Thornton said the increase in violent crime was not limited to London, with figures showing knife crime has increased by 21 per cent and gun crime by 20 per cent year-on-year across the country.
On Friday a 30-year-old man was arrested in Hackney over the murder of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake (17), who was shot in Tottenham on Monday in a drive-by attack as she sat with friends.
Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick said the spate of violence in the capital was “very worrying” and also “unusual”. She defended the Met’s record and said she believed the perpetrators of the recent killings would face the courts.
On Friday afternoon a section 60 order, granting police stop and search powers across the Borough of Newham, was announced in response to an incident where a 13-year-old boy was stabbed on Thursday.
A Met officer told the Press Association that stop-and-search efforts on members of the public had been increasingly uncovering weapons.
However, Sgt Paul Perversi said that the popularity of smartphones and social media has “massively” encouraged more people to challenge officers during a search, with many people stopping to film the process and post footage online.
“I would say it happens more often than not,” he said. “If you stop two people out of 10, you will have five people who get their phone out. Then you go and search on YouTube and I’m there.” - PA