London’s Metropolitan Police are deploying more officers ahead of a wave of violent crime that is expected to hit the streets of the capital as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“The public can expect to see an uplift of officers on the streets of London in weeks to come as the Met steps up its response to violent crime and prepares to deal with any incidents across the capital as lockdown eases,” the Met said in a statement on Tuesday.
The increased police deployment started in North and South London on Sunday following a string of stabbings and includes “a strong presence of officers within local areas,” the Met said.
They are “working together from various commands across the Met as they carry out patrols and weapon sweeps,” it said.
So far officers have removed an “18-inch zombie knife following an intelligence-led stop by officers in south London.”
They also closed a factory in a residence in Southwark containing an estimated £100,000 ($140,000) worth of cannabis.
The move by the Met follows The Telegraph reporting that UK government Ministers have written to British police chiefs and other officials warning them to prepare for a surge in serious violent crime post lockdown.
‘Prevention is Always Better’
Asked if more enforcement is the key to assuaging the expected uptick in violent crime following the pressures of lockdown curbs, Simon Harding, Professor of Criminology at the University of West London, told The Epoch Times it was not.
“Prevention is always better than clearing up issues after they have already taken place,” Harding said.
“So, it’s important to recognize that these pressures may be currently existing and they [the authorities] should take whatever measures they can to help prevent a possible rise in crime,” he explained.
“Where there is intelligence and knowledge of who might be involved and they have that in advance, then there’s always potential for preventative measures rather than enforcement measures,” he said.
But interventions, he said, are less likely to work once an offender, particularly a young offender, is before the courts and in the “difficult trajectory” of the justice system.
Once they enter, they tend not to get out and typically their future offending escalates, he said.
“What we saw last year when the first lockdown was lifted after Easter and around the summer was an upswing in criminal activities … some of them to do with violence,” he said.
“Having learned the lessons of last year I think there’s opportunities for getting ahead of the curve this time around and taking some preventative measures to reduce the upswing,” he added.
One effective method assuaging potential criminality is to make direct contact with young people who have come to the attention of authorities, letting them know the police are aware of their potential involvement in crime, Harding explained.
Another, more key preventative is early intervention with mentoring schemes where trusted relationships can be built to help the young person find “the pathway out” of offending, he said.
A “mentor usually works best when … they themselves have had experience of maybe growing up in that kind of environment and they know the challenges that young people can face,” he said.
He also said that “blanket approaches” with ever-increasing penalties may not work to prevent violent crime, particularly that associated with the “county lines” type crime.
This typically involves younger people from poverty-stricken backgrounds who are attracted to dealing drugs by the lure of money and social kudos.
Even if penalties do work for some offenders who are locked up, he said, in areas of persistent social deprivation there is a “continued supply of young people who are willing and ready to step in.”
“Each instance should be taken on its own merits and the circumstances for the individual will vary considerably,” he said.
Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s Violence Lead, said that prevention and deterrence will be a strong focus of the increased police operations in London ahead of lockdown easing.
“This operational activity already places us on the front foot to prevent any emerging incidents of violence,” she said.
Officers will identify and deploy to risk areas “to focus on deterring these crimes and making communities feel safer,” she said.
The heightened police presence will involve the Violence Suppression Units, the Violent Crime Taskforce, Dogs Support Unit, Territorial Support Group, Armed Response Vehicles, Specialist Firearms Command, and the Roads and Transport Policing Command, the Met said.