Gang members arrested and cannabis factory found in Westminster police raids
12:49 02 May 2012
Police chief warns North Westminster gangs could commit murder as 120 officers conduct dawn raids across the borough
Gangs in North Westminster could murder at any point, warns the police inspector tasked with cracking down on the worrying rise in gang violence in the borough.
Eight suspected violent gang members were arrested this morning as 120 officers simultaneously raided 17 homes in an operation to target gang members on the Westminster and Brent border.
Crack cocaine, a cannabis factory and an air pistol were all recovered as part of the operation which marked the start of an Operation Trident crackdown in North Westminster.
Giving a stark warning of the extent of the problem faced by police, Det Ch Insp Tim Champion from Trident said: “These gangs have the propensity to murder.
“We are in a challenging situation where we have youths carrying knives and when you put weapons in their hands it could end in murder.”
The coordinated raids at 6am today saw police officers target gang members from the Lisson Green Men, Mozart SMG and South Kilburn Bandits.
One 16-year-old arrested at his home in Verdi Crescent, Queen’s Park, is thought to be a prolific street robber and house burglar on bail for four offences.
Living in a four-bedroom flat with his eight family members, including a 10-month-old girl, the teenager was arrested for assaulting a member of court staff and possession of Class A drugs after two rocks of crack cocaine fell from a window during the raid.
Three suspected gang members were also arrested in a one-bedroom flat in the South Kilburn Estate off Carlton Vale after police found a cannabis factory in the middle of the living room containing a dozen fully-grown plants.
Westminster Ch Insp Louis Smith says patrols will be stepped up in the wake of the raids and weapons sweeps will take place in public areas.
“A series of knife and firearm attacks have happened over the past six to eight months in North Westminster,” he said.
“Precisely why it has increased I can’t say. The tit for tat attacks could come from something that we never find out about.
“There have been shootings and stabbings where any of them could have led to deaths.”
The dawn raids took place the day after Westminster Council announced £230,000 is to be spent on a dozen new CCTV cameras in Maida Hill and Queen’s Park to “increase community confidence” following the recent rise in serious youth violence.