Policing itself will not solve London's crime wave, says murder squad chief

The head of London's murder squad has said policing alone will not solve the violent crime wave gripping the capital.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood pledged that his officers would be "lawfully audacious" in stopping the bloodshed, but that they need communities to "step up and say enough's enough".

So far this year 62 murders have been recorded by the Metropolitan Police, of which 39 involved knives and 10 guns.

In the first three months of this year 45 murders were recorded, compared with the first quarter of 2017 when there were 23.

Police after two shootings at two locations near each other in Wealdstone, north-west London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Police after two shootings at two locations near each other in Wealdstone, north-west London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee have launched an urgent inquiry into the surge in violence, and called on the Mayor and the Met to "take hold of the situation".

Mr Wood said there is no single solution to the crime wave.

"It's a complicated series of issues - I don't think there's any one answer," he told the Press Association.

"It's something we're not going to simply police our way out of.

"We need communities to step up and say enough's enough, we need everybody to come together and we just need to make it completely unacceptable for young people to take knives and guns out on the streets.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking when you're talking to a family who have lost their son or daughter.

"We will be lawfully audacious in what we do on behalf of communities to deal with the issue but we won't arrest our way out of this.

PA Graphics
PA Graphics

"We will do everything we can within the law to bring those responsible to justice but it's bigger than that."

Police estimate that charges have been brought in around 70% of the cases recorded as murder so far this year.

The remaining 30% includes the deaths of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, 17, Amaan Shakoor, 16, and Abraham Badru, 26, who were all apparently shot by gang members.

Mr Wood denied there is a wall of silence hampering the investigations but acknowledged that some witnesses will not come forward.

"We have some people who are reluctant to come forward, for various reasons they don't want to help the police.

"It could be that they haven't got confidence in the police, we need to never lose sight of that, to make sure that we've got the confidence of young people.

"There are some people who are reluctant to come forward who are perhaps scared themselves because you are talking about some very violent incidents.

"But we need the help from people to solve these crimes and prevent other young people coming to harm."

He said the charge rate is healthy but he wants to convict every person who commits homicide.

"I will never be happy until we solve 100% of murders.

"My colleagues on the homicide command at the moment are under a lot of pressure, they've got a high workload.

"Obviously the number of cases has gone up so they're under more pressure. We will seek to convict every single person who commits a homicide. We won't rest until we do that."

In the past few days, several teenagers have been caught up in violent attacks.

On Tuesday, two teenagers aged 16 and 18 were stabbed in "a large fight" in Hackney, while another victim, in his late teens, was knifed in the leg during the evening rush-hour near Woolwich Arsenal station, south-east London.

Less than two hours earlier, police in west London were called to The Embankment, Twickenham, to a teenager with a non-life threatening stab wound to his arm.

It follows a bank holiday weekend of bloodshed which saw a number of shootings and stabbings.

Rapper Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was shot dead near his home in south London (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Rapper Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was shot dead near his home in south London (Metropolitan Police/PA)

On Monday, a 17-year-old boy was stabbed when he was ambushed by two masked men riding a moped in Waltham Forest, east London.

The pillion passenger had a gun and fired at the victim but missed. He was taken to hospital but his injuries are not life-threatening.

A 13-year-old boy was an innocent victim as he was shot in the head while walking down the street with his parents in Harrow.

The youngster was hit by shotgun pellets as a 15-year-old was attacked at around 1.15pm on Sunday in High Street, Wealdstone.

Both teenagers suffered non-life threatening injuries, and the younger boy has been released from hospital.

Aspiring architect Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was fatally shot in Southwark on Saturday.

The 17-year-old rapper had "so much potential", his mother said as she tearfully told of her "handsome boy".

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