CRITICISED: the Met Police
CONCERNS HAVE been raised after a shake-up of the independent advisory body set up to monitor Met police gang crime unit, Trident.
A revamped Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG) was unveiled this week but this has been met with disapproval, with one critic saying the new version undermines the group’s previous independence, risks undoing 10 years of work done among black communities and could further alienate them.
“Instead of independent challenge of its operations, the MPS has sought to hand pick individuals from organisations that it contracts with to deliver work on tackling gangs (ie St Giles Trust, Capital Conflict Management) and to Chair meetings with this new group itself, thus removing all notion of independence,” warned Claudia Webbe, founder and former chairperson of the Trident Independent Advisory Group.
“This move also seeks to regulate and control the advice it receives from affected communities,” she added.
She said the effective “disbanding” of the previous community influenced Trident group is the latest in a series of changes that have involved the “whittling away of independent scrutiny, accountability and critical challenge of the Trident OCU’s operation and effectiveness.”
CONCERNS: Claudia Webbe
However, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the Voice the changes were made in line with Trident’s wider mandate to tackle gang crime.
It said the Trident Gang Crime Command now leads the MPS response to tackling gang-related crime and associated violence, with additional responsibility for the prevention and investigation of all shootings in London, regardless of the victim's background.
The spokesperson said: “Historically Trident focused primarily on gun crime and homicide within the black community, and since its formation in 1998 and throughout its history, Trident has been advised and assisted by the Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG).
"From the very beginning building effective relationships with the communities most affected by gun crime has been at the core of Trident's response."
"Although Trident's remit has since changed...Community engagement remains at the core of Trident and as such our IAG continues to play a fundamental part in how we engage with London's communities.
"Since the new command was launched in February 2012, it has become clear that our IAG needed to be more representative of the communities that we serve.
"Therefore the new Trident IAG, launched this week, now comprises a community member nominated from each of the 18 Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) boroughs in London, together with specific representatives of young people, including representation from the Safer London Foundation 'Young Ambassador' forum.
"The group also includes representatives from the St Giles Trust, the Princes Trust and various youth, faith and community groups from across the capital.
"We know that to tackle gang crime effectively we need the assistance of London's communities - it is only with their help that we can bring offenders to justice and to protect young people.”
Trident became a gang crime unit one year ago after years working with ethnic communities to prevent, reduce and investigate shootings affecting black communities.
Its work came from community pressure following the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which branded the police force institutionally racist over the way it handled the investigation into the black teenagers racist 1993 murder.