Yard announces crackdown on criminal gangs

1,000 officers to combat the problem at a cost of £60m a year as gang membership hits 5,000

The number of gang members in London has spiralled to almost 5,000, Scotland Yard revealed yesterday as it announced a multimillion pound crackdown on the people responsible for a huge proportion of violent crime.

Click HERE to view graphic

As raids across the capital brought in almost 160 suspected gang members yesterday, the Metropolitan Police announced that 1,000 officers were going to be dedicated to combating the problem at a cost of more than £60m a year.

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, in his first major initiative in office, promised to "relentlessly pursue" the most violent members of gangs. "Our gang of seven and a half million has got to be bigger and better than the gangs who roam the streets of London. The hard work now starts," he said.

The police chief and London Mayor, Boris Johnson, were joined by Ingrid Adams, whose 15-year-old son Negus was murdered last year. "This problem doesn't just affect the poor, people from broken homes or gang members – it could happen to anyone," she said,

Police estimate that as many as 4,800 predominantly young men are involved in 435 gangs throughout London. Of these, 250 groups were deemed to be criminally active with 62 responsible for two-thirds of related violence.

Gangs, it was revealed, are responsible for a disproportionate amount of London's crime – half of all shootings, a fifth of stabbings and one in seven rapes. A quarter of aggravated burglaries are also gang related, as well as 22 per cent of serious violence and almost a fifth of muggings.

The vast majority of gang members are men aged between 18 and 24. While an increasing number of women are taking part, they are still just 5 per cent of those charged with related offences. However, women represent 20 per cent of the victims of gang crime, of whom 53 per cent are black and a fifth white.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced that the new unit –which includes officers working for Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime in the black community – would co-ordinate intelligence and operate a more "joined up consistent approach" across the capital.

While many gangs are territorial and stick to certain postcodes, others spread their tentacles wider. Task forces will be set up in 19 problem boroughs, co-ordinated by the central Trident command.

Yesterday, 1,300 police officers and staff were involved in raids across London, with 144 warrants resulting in 158 arrests. A kilo and half of heroin and crack cocaine was also seized, as well as thousands of pounds in cash and firearms.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Cundy, head of the new unit, said Trident's remit had changed significantly since its creation, as the make up of gangs and their targets has dramatically altered. In 2010, the victims came from 53 different countries and a third were under the age of 19.

'I saw daughter collapse,' says victim's mother

The mother of a five-year-old girl paralysed in an alleged gang shooting has described the horror of the moment she saw her daughter collapse.

In a statement to the trial at the Old Bailey, Sharmila Kamales- waran said she saw Thusha crumble "as though her legs were going to give up on her" after being shot while she played inside a south London shop on 29 March last year.

Thomas Watson said he saw a man run into the shop, chased by three masked men, one of whom had a gun. Kazeem Kolawole, 19, Anthony McCalla, 19, and Nath- aniel Grant, 21, all deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent. They have also pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and pos- session of a firearm with intent.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam