Met Police officers

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Reuters

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Crime has fallen by 35% over the last six weeks compared to the same period in 2019

One thousand of London’s most prolific violent offenders are being visited by Met police officers in a bid to stop crime rising as the lockdown eases.

According to the force, crime in the capital has dropped by 35% over the last six weeks compared to 2019.

Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wanted to “capitalise” on the fall by getting officers to visit offenders and offer them support to change.

Violence Suppression Units (VSU) have also been created to help cut offences.

Since the lockdown began almost all crime has fallen in London, according to data from Scotland Yard.

Compared to the same period last year, knife and gun offences have fallen by half, while the number of young people injured by a knife has dropped by almost 70%.

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PA Media

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Cressida Dick said she wanted the Met to “capitalise” on fall in offences

The Met said the fall had allowed them more time to focus on targeting violent offenders.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said police had identified about 1,000 people across London who they believe are “predisposed to be involved in violent offending of one type or another”.

He added: “Here is an opportunity for them to reset their lives potentially.”

The 1,000 offenders will each be visited twice by officers over the coming weeks to give them “the opportunity to engage in diversionary activities”, he said.

The force has also located 250 “micro hotspots” that have seen high levels of street violence and robbery which will be targeted with bursts of police activity at random times.

Ms Dick said the new VSUs, which are made up of more than 620 officers, “will strengthen our commitment to drive out crime within neighbourhoods”.

She added that since February over 1,200 arrests had been made as a result of “dedicated violence suppression activity”.

Analysis

By Katharine Carpenter, BBC London home affairs correspondent

Today the commissioner acknowledged that the fall in violent crime is a “silver lining” to the horror of this pandemic.

The force was under immense pressure to get control of the capital’s knife crime problem – now it’s had the chance.

Staff self-isolating have taken on administrative tasks, freeing up those out on the streets, and officers who would have been policing large events, airports and schools have instead been available to tackle violence, boosted by new recruits.

The challenge now is to maintain this momentum in the coming months without numbers bouncing back to their pre-lockdown levels.

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