Police focus to shift from gangs to serious youth crime

At Tuesday’s Safer and Stronger Community meeting in the Woolwich Town Hall Councillors received a report from the Violent and Organised Crime Unit (VOCU) which is funded by the Council but part of the Greenwich Police force.  Conservatives have backed the VOCU in the Council’s budget and were pleased to hear about its success to date.


The main focus of the report was on the levels of arrests related to knives, guns and drugs and there were several operations worthy of note since April 2008.  The police were keen to stress that the arrests were the result of long-term intelligence work and in particular, undercover work by officers.  The main operations included:-


  • Operation Granite in November 2010 led to 42 arrests over drugs (mostly class A) with many violent offenders receiving prison sentences.
  • In March 2011 there were 22 arrests for knives in a separate operation.
  • At the beginning of this year Operation Trazer has led to 45 arrests of gang members across the borough.  Almost all of the people have been charged as the evidence leading to them was substantial and well documented.  This was seen as an enormous success and led to arrests across the south east, including the break-up of a smuggling ring based at the channel ports. 


Eltham North Councillor Spencer Drury asked about the impact of the VOCU in the south of the borough.  Officers replied that crime was down across the borough and operations frequently did take them to Eltham – including one difficult youth just off Westmount Road.  Spencer also addressed the issue of the introduction of a dispersal zone in Eltham, which he felt opinion was moving in favour of.  The possibility of a wider consultation of Eltham residents about the introduction of the dispersal zone was discussed. 


Spencer said “Since the idea of a dispersal zone for Eltham was first mooted, I think opinion has slowly moved in favour of the introduction.  Increasing numbers of residents believe that it may be required to restore order to our High Street, especially when the schools empty out.  Personally, I have certainly changed my views but without more police I don’t think the dispersal order alone will have much of an impact.” 


The officers at the Safer and Stronger Communities meeting alos suggested Eltham High Street would benefit from the police station being used as a centre to help train special constables.


Spencer also discussed the issue at the Eltham North Safer Neighbourhood Panel on Wednesday night where Sgt Rees of the Eltham North team informed local residents that the senior police within the borough seemed to be moving towards the ideas of a dispersal zone for Eltham too.