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Police say crackdown on crime has been ‘hugely successful’ after Colindale estate focus

Police chiefs have launched a crackdown on crime in Barnet following a spike in gun crime and other offences.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police said an operation begun this year to tackle serious and organised crime had been “hugely successful” and led to more than 230 arrests.

A report presented to a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday revealed several offences had increased during the year to March when compared to the previous 12-month period.

The figures show lethal barrelled discharge gun crime climbed by 450%, from two offences to 12. Knife crime with injury was up 8.2%, from 85 to 92 offences.

There were 708 cases of robbery of personal property in the 12 months to March – a 21.9% increase compared to the previous year. Residential burglary was up 5%, to 1,945 cases, while non-residential burglary increased by 17.7% to 653 offences.

Barnet neighbourhood superintendent Lorraine Busby-McVey told the scrutiny committee that there had been “a lot of changes” in the Metropolitan Police since March, including a new operational model and an increase in the number of superintendents.

A fresh initiative designed to tackle serious and organised crime in three phases, dubbed ‘Clear, Hold, Build’, was launched by the Metropolitan Police this year – and officers said Barnet was leading the new approach.

Focused on Colindale’s Grahame Park Estate, chief inspector Rob Gibbs said it had helped to bring down gun crime following a spike in offences during the winter and spring.

He said the first phase – Operation Dakota One, a two-month period during which between two sergeants and 12 police officers were deployed to the area every day – had been “hugely successful”, leading to 160 arrests for a total of 272 offences. These included murder, robbery and firearms offences.

There have been 72 arrests since the start of the second phase, Dakota Two, on 1st September. Rob said that there had been some displacement of criminal activity from the areas targeted, but officers had been deployed to tackle the problems and there had been “significant drops in crime”.

He added that from the moment the police started intensifying efforts following the spike in gun crime during the winter and spring “we have seen no further firearms discharges”, which he described as a “huge step forward”.

Rob continued: “At the moment, although it is too early to draw definitive conclusions, we are seeing a much wider ripple effect across the borough in terms of reductions in crime across the board.”

The police are now moving towards the ‘hold’ and ‘build’ phases of the initiative, which involve working with the community and partner agencies to prevent other criminals from moving in and to help residents to build safer and stronger communities.

Although much of the policing efforts have so far focused on the Grahame Park Estate, Rob said it was “just the start of what we want to do” during the next twelve to 24 months.

Under questioning from councillors who suggested some crime had merely been displaced to neighbouring areas, Rob pointed out that the ‘clear’ phase would continue until the end of the year and officers would respond to new intelligence from the community.

The police chiefs said extra resources would be deployed in wards with the biggest crime problems.

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