violent crime today & tomorrow Continued from page 17

Tackling Increase in police officers

The aim of current recruitment of police officers to the Metropolitan Police is to reach 31,000 once more. This means it will have the capacity to continue with the high level of visible policing and suppression tactics for violent crime.

Continuing with and improving Stop and Search

The MPS has increased its use of this tactic, which has seen an increase over the last twelve months from an average of 10,000 stop and searches in London per month to 26,000 (August 2019) and this is set to continue. Sean is clear that a continued focus on training for stop and search is needed. “Talking to the public is a skill. A new officer may be a young person themselves, required to wear body-worn video, to talk through their reasonable grounds, perhaps with a violent gang member; this is quite a challenge and we need to make officers confident and to get it right. Stop and search should be done with humility and respect. This is the key message from our Commissioner all the way down to our staff who are using this tactic on a daily basis.”

County Lines and drug related violence

Serious violent crimes, such as homicides, are likely to be linked to gangs and drugs. “Whilst stop and search has increased, so have incidents of finding drugs: every time we find a knife, we find a significant quantity of drugs, so we know there is a link.” The MPS has launched its drug plan focusing on reducing demand, harm and supply.

County Lines is the term for drug gangs expanding their operations beyond their own area, often into neighbouring counties and beyond and often exploiting children to sell drugs. “The Met will continue work with surrounding forces around the exporting and importing of violent criminality. Our efforts will be focused on county lines activity and criminal and sexual exploitation of young people, linked to gangs.”

How Security Officers can help

We discussed with Sean Yates how those working in security can help support efforts to

Looking to 2020 and beyond

tackle violent crime. As with other crime types, witnessing incidents and providing intelligence that could identify those involved is very useful. Sean understands that security staff may get frustrated with a slow response to non-urgent reports but asks for patience. “The key message is Call, Retain and Share. Officers will come; due to prioritising existing call demand, it might not always be an immediate response, but being able to view CCTV of a group of people responsible for a subsequent incident is very important.” He also explained that it is really helpful if you can isolate the time slot on the CCTV. “If you think you see something, isolate the time, so we can find it quickly on your system and review it.”

We went onto to discuss how security officers could support by sharing messages with young people. “Those working in security can potentially be more influential and have more respect from potential gang members and can have relevant conversations which are more likely to be received positively than if delivered by a police officer. If you are able to have a conversation with a young person then tell them where they can find help or support – organisations such as #KnifeFree or The Prince’s Trust. Encourage them to get involved in sport or music, talk to them about potential consequences and risks.

“This is an issue affecting thousands of these people across London, so if you feel that you could assist, that there is something relevant you can give, like speaking to young people in youth clubs, let’s have some ideas to move forward. We don’t have all the answers. It’s only by the police, our partners and the public working together that we will solve this issue.”

How retailers can help

Another area of the community that can help are those retailers that sell knives. Sean’s request to them is that they make it more difficult for young people who in a flashpoint situation run into a shop and pick up a knife off a shelf. “We have seen a number of violent incidents in the last twelve months where we know they have run into a store in this way. Please join the Responsible Retailer’s Scheme. It helps with staff training and storage issues; let’s put the knives out of reach, either behind glass or locked away for example.”

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Retailers are also asked to put in another tier of supervision or difficulty when a knife is sold, whether from a corner shop or a major outlet, in the same way there are policies around selling alcohol.

“You need to be checking people’s age and ID. Training, especially for younger staff, is needed to handle this potentially challenging conversation.

“The scheme lays out the law in regards the storage and retailing of knives and helps to provide training for staff to deal with tricky conversations, ID checks and other issues at point of sale. You can find details on the Trading Standards website.”

Retailers are really keen and very receptive to these ideas and about making staff safe. “But we only have a finite number of officers to go into this institutions and retail outlets. Perhaps the security sector can support the sharing of these messages?”

Business can help share the message

Businesses can help by providing practical advice for staff to share with the young people in their lives. “Have those conversations with your children, siblings and family friends to raise awareness. A young person, from any background, that feels threatened, may carry a knife. Any young person is capable of arming themselves. A knife that is there to chop onions could become a weapon for someone who feels at risk, who feels a need to arm themselves. But the sad fact is that arming yourself with a knife increases your risk of harm.”

Much is being done to solve this very difficult problem. It is going to take time and investment from government, police and other public organisations. The wider community and our young people play a key part in addressing and finally resolving this issue.

Andrea Berkoff Editor, City Seurity magazine



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