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Operation Trident launch capital’s biggest gun crackdown

WEAPONS AMNESTY: Some of the firearms handed into the Met Police recently

MET POLICE officers have launched one of its biggest ever operations against gun and knife crime in the capital.

The force is responding to a recent rise in stabbings and firearms offences with joint operations involving hundreds of specialist officers, including firearms teams.

Since January 2015, 15 teenagers have been stabbed to death in London.

There have also been more than 350 firearms-related incidents in the capital so far this year, up 15 per cent on the 2014 figure.

The crackdown follows a guns amnesty which was held two weeks after the Paris terror attacks, which resulted in the recovery of dozens of guns, including an AK47 assault rifle, the same kind of weapon used in the attack on the French capital.

The Metropolitan police operation - codenamed Kestrel - is being run by the Trident and Area Crime Command.

This week journalists joined a Trident team in Bethnal Green, east London, in a targeted operation using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Cameras.

Trident Interceptor officers Chris Dartnell and Graham Barthel used an unmarked police car to follow and stop a number of vehicles linked to gang crime.

Although the teams involved in the Bethnal Green crackdown managed to detain a number of known gang members, Scotland Yard said the aim of the operation was as much about disrupting gang activity as it was about making arrests.

SEIZURES

So far this week police have seized eight firearms, including two handguns and three sawn-off shotguns, four knives, two swords, 11 kilos of cocaine, three kilos of cannabis, one kilo of MDMA, four kilos of crack cocaine and heroin with a street value of £250,000.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said Operation Kestrel is an extension of an earlier initiative launched against knife crime in June which resulted in 6,000 arrests and led to 1,000 knives being seized.

The arrests and seizures have been as a result of weapon sweeps, intelligence-led operations, search warrants and directed patrols by Armed Response Vehicles and Trident officers using ANPR technology.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, in charge of the Trident and Area Crime Command, said officers targeting firearms were using similar tactics to those employed during June's anti-knife operation.

He said: “Using a range of tactics from the highly covert to the very overt we will make it as hard as possible for criminals to carry or hide guns or indeed to supply them to others.

“We are determined to make getting hold of a gun as difficult as possible by targeting those who convert or manufacture guns, seeking out hiding places to disrupt their use and identifying those who carry guns for others."

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