Met Police chief says force is ready to tackle future violent incidents

A Metropolitan Police chief said he is “concerned” over recent violence in London, but said the force is “ready” to tackle future incidents ahead of further lockdown easing.

Superintendent Tom Naughton, of the Violent Crime Taskforce, said the Met had the resources and capabilities to deal with such incidents and officers would “bear down on high harm offences”.

It comes after several instances of violence across the capital in the last week, including in Brixton, south-west London, where a crowd threw bottles and stones at officers called to the scene of a reported stabbing and shooting.

Police also condemned the “brazen violence” that took place in Hyde Park, west London after officers were called to reports of a number of people brandishing machetes.

Sup Tom Naughton said that warmer weather and the easing of coronavirus restrictions had led to an increased number of people gathering in public spaces.

“Over the last few weeks there’s been warmer weather, there’s been a reduction in the restrictions so there have been more groups gathering in some locations,” he said.

“We have noticed a higher footfall in public spaces but obviously there have been some incidents of note which have come to light in the last few weeks.

“We need to make sure we are in key areas where violence is predicted to have taken place or may take place in the future.

Disorder in Hyde Park
Disorder in Hyde Park (Met Police/PA)

Speaking on the Tulse Hill Estate in Brixton as officers performed increased weapons searches, he continued: “It does concern me that those incidents have taken place.

“However, the Metropolitan Police has the skills, the resources and the capabilities to respond to incidents and to make sure that we’re in the right places.

“We’ve been aware for a number of months that the lockdown was going to be eased and we’ve been planning a policing operation, which we are already fully engaging at the moment, for some time .

“We’re bearing down on high harm offences through effective offender management programmes, we’re making sure our intelligence is as good as it can be.”

Sup Naughton added that increase in online activity could be a contributing factor to increasing youth violence.

“I would say it could be a contributing factor, not the sole contributing factor, but it’s something that over the past few years the Metropolitan Police has increased its capabilities in…in order to tackle the online encouragement of violence.”

Asked about the force’s preparedness ahead of further easing of restrictions on June 21 he said: “The Metropolitan Police, working in close collaboration with partners, is ready.

“We have the officers in the right places, we have already been planning for lockdown on June 21 for some time and we will make sure we have a policing presence which is reassuring in engaging and supporting our communities.”