Eltham blitz on race crime

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RACIST CRIMINALS in Eltham, the part of south-east London where Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death, are to be targeted by specialist police officers under a new pounds 1m scheme.

The officers will be drafted into the area to collect intelligence on suspected race attackers in four areas across London, including the borough of Greenwich, where Stephen was stabbed to death in 1993.

Chief Inspector Alan West, who is co-ordinating the project, said: "Stephen Lawrence has provided a catalyst, but not the sole catalyst, for activity against racist crime. Race crime is very much on our agenda." Three race intelligence officers are also to be appointed across London following damning criticisms of the Metropolitan force in the Macpherson report into the Lawrence case.

The initiatives are part of the work being carried out by Scotland Yard's specialist race crimes unit under Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve.

The new team's officers will "collate intelligence information, identify and target race crime offenders and develop strategies for operations designed to culminate in successful prosecutions," a Home Office spokeswoman said.

The scheme was one of 11 announced yesterday by Paul Boateng, the Home Office minister, in a pounds 5m initiative to tackle crime hot spots.

Other schemes being run by eight forces include the targeting of young offenders in Cardiff; crack cocaine dealers in Hackney, east London; burglars and car thieves in Stockport, Greater Manchester; vandals and bad neighbours in Humberside; handlers of stolen goods in Kent; and thefts of farm equipment in rural areas of Northumbria.

The money will be spent over the next three years, starting from April. Another 10 schemes will be run later this year.