Hundreds of officers in one of MPS’s biggest armed operations this year
Armed officers raided a traveller site in southeast London in the early hours of this morning (September 9) in a “significant” operation targeting organised crime.
Hundreds of officers were involved in the raid, which followed months of work by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) gathering evidence.
The MPS said it was a “significant operation targeting the possession and supply of firearms and drugs across London”.
With intelligence suggesting the presence of firearms on the grounds, the MPS said a number of distraction techniques were used to enter the site in Star Lane, Orpington, and detain the suspects.
The raid was one of the biggest armed operations carried out by the MPS this year.
Due to the serious and organised nature of the criminality believed to have been committed, specialist officers from across the MPS were drafted in to support – including officers from the Specialist Firearms Command and Territorial Support Group.
As of 6am, seven people had been arrested for offences including possession with intent to supply drugs, handling stolen goods and burglary. Two people found at the site are being supported by the MPS’s Modern Slavery Team. Seventeen dogs have also been seized.
Commander Kyle Gordon, the Gold commander for the operation, said: “Tackling violent crime remains the Met’s top priority and our efforts to prevent serious harm and loss of life on the streets of London have not wavered, including over the last few challenging months.
“This operation clearly demonstrates that every officer – from local neighbourhood teams all the way up to our specialist crime investigators – is focused on bringing those responsible for violence and organised criminality on the streets of London to justice, to keep our communities safe.
“This case was led by local neighbourhood officers in response to local issues, and its success would not have been possible without the support of partners and communities. This operation has targeted serious and organised crime head on, and will mean the surrounding communities are now safer for those living within them.”
The operation was a result of work carried out by the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, with officers identifying a series of crimes believed to be carried out by suspects linked to this location.
“Over the course of several months, a package of evidence was developed around the suspects at the centre of the investigation, and this morning’s activity is the culmination of those many months of work,” said the MPS.
“At approximately 2.45am, hundreds of officers in more than 30 vehicles carried out a number of search warrants at the site. The operation involved highly trained Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officers, teams from the Territorial Support Group, Dog Support Unit and specialist search officers. Dozens of officers from the local basic command unit (BCU) were also deployed.”
The MPS said due to the size of the site and intelligence around where firearms may be stored, specialist search officers will now be present for around two days carrying out a thorough search of the location.
Cmdr Gordon said: “Over recent months we have seen an increase in the number of firearms incidents across London and proactive operations like this are crucial to removing the availability of weapons and drugs on the streets. We have now seized dozens of lethal firearms and prevented them entering the hands of dangerous individuals.”
Superintendent Andy Brittain, from the South Area BCU, added: “We’ve been listening to the concerns of the local community and I hope that today’s activity shows how seriously we take your concerns and that we do act upon them.
“This is a prime example of why we rely on intelligence and information so much from our communities. It helps us keep your streets safe.
“Local residents may see an enhanced police presence over the next few days and possibly some road closures while we carry out or searches. We are working with the local authorities to look after the safeguarding of residents and children that may be temporarily displaced whilst we do these searches.”
A Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) spokesperson said: “By working in partnership, sharing intelligence lawfully and efficiently, the GAIN aims to ensure that government agencies along with law enforcement will help reduce the risk, threat and harm from serious and organised crime, in the most cost-effective way. Operation Medusa has involved months of collaborative hard work by GAIN who are dedicated to dismantling crime networks. Today’s executive action is an excellent example of adopting a multi-agency approach.”