More than 1,900 arrests and 500 weapons seized by police as part of Operation Denali – with specialist Met teams carrying out high visibility patrols.
By: Shubham Ghosh
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on Thursday (25) joined specialist Met officers to see first-hand how the police are tackling violence affecting young people in the capital through enforcement and education, a press release from his office said.
Under Operation Denali, specialist Met police teams carry out targeted high-visibility patrols and proactive activity in busy high streets and transport hubs to tackle crime in areas known for high volumes of serious violence and knife-carrying.
The operation has focused on six boroughs — Haringey, Enfield, Croydon, Lewisham, Greenwich and Newham — and since its launch in January 2022, the police have made more than 1,900 arrests and removed 500 weapons from the streets.
In Haringey, which Khan visited on Thursday, homicides have fallen by 40 per cent, 49 dangerous weapons have been seized and 196 arrests made since Operation Denali kicked off.
The targeted operations are being supported by record investment from the mayor into positive opportunities for young people in disadvantaged areas, and sit alongside vital work the Met are doing with local communities, education and diversionary programmes.
This includes police officers educating young people on dangers of carrying knives through workshops in schools and youth centres. The Met have nearly 500 officers dedicated to youth engagement and diversion who are working in partnership with London’s schools and local authorities to help divert those most vulnerable and at risk from violence away from a life of crime.
The mayor on Thursday joined a local enforcement operation at Tottenham Hale before meeting with neighbourhood officers, local community youth workers, police youth engagement representatives and Reverend Wood from local community charity Hope in Haringey at Tottenham police station to hear about the work they are doing together to educate young people on the dangers of carrying knives.
Significant progress has been made in tackling violence and homicides in the capital, bucking the national trend, with the number of murders in London last year falling to its lowest since 2014 and teenage murders reducing by more than 50 per cent compared to the previous year.
Khan is clear that one life lost to violence is one too many, which is why he set up and continues to fund London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to lead an approach that is rooted in prevention and early intervention. This includes investing nearly £6 million in early intervention to drive down school exclusions, funding youth workers in hospitals and in police custody, and helping the mayor deliver on a flagship manifesto pledge to give every young Londoner in need access to a dedicated mentor by 2024.
Over the last two years, the VRU has invested in more than 150,000 positive opportunities for young people.
“Tackling violent crime and keeping all Londoners safe is my top priority. The Met’s work in areas disproportionately impacted by violence is making a difference with significant drops in violence and murders in these areas and dangerous weapons being removed from our streets,” Khan said.
“But we know we cannot just arrest our way out of violence and that is why education and prevention work is so vital. Police enforcement is working alongside the early intervention programmes led by my Violence Reduction Unit, which is providing young people in disadvantaged areas with the positive opportunities and mentors they deserve. I urge the Government to follow this lead to funding long term solutions to tackle violence so we can continue to build a safe London for everyone.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Ward said, “There are no easy answers to tackling violent crime on our streets and no quick fixes to ending the devastation caused to our young people and their families who have been victims of crime.
“However, there are solutions out there if we’re prepared to listen to the voices of those who are most affected by violence such as those who have lost loved ones; young people who make difficult choices every day; youth workers, teachers and volunteers who work tirelessly to create alternative opportunities, and police officers who relentlessly pursue the most dangerous offenders and gangs.
“We’re determined to listen more and work closer with our communities by deploying specialist enforcement teams to protect our most vulnerable boroughs, using dedicated engagement teams to divert our most vulnerable young people away from violence and strengthening our neighbourhood teams to work locally to find long-term solutions.
“Operation Denali is an example of our commitment to deliver More Trust, Less Crime and High Standards for all Londoners.”
Director of Hope in Haringey, Reverend John Wood, said, “For almost two decades, we have remained committed to bringing Haringey and Tottenham young people together with MPS officers in safe and neutral spaces for mutual listening and learning. It’s critical for their own security that they have confidence in those that police them, confidence that can only be generated through these types of encounters.
“Officers also have the chance to learn from these young people and hear their voices so that community safety can be more than a dream, but a reality.
“In a borough with deep and historic trust issues with the MPS, we remain grateful to the police officers, schools, colleges and youth organisations that participate in our programmes and hope the Mayor and Commissioner will continue to see this work as a priority as they formulate their strategy for reducing youth violence in our City.”
Police Cadet Co-ordinator in Haringey, PC Chantelle Budny, said, “Engaging with our young people is vital to ensure that we are listening to a variety of different voices.
“As a Cadet Co-ordinator, I work with young people across the borough to get them involved in different aspects of policing, which allows them to have an understanding of the work we do.
“It also means that we are able to hear first-hand of any concerns in the local area, and work together to find mutual solutions.”