Disturbing pictures of huge knives confiscated from teenagers during a shopping center riot on Boxing Day have been released by police. Officers were called to a disturbance at Stratford Westfield in east London on Tuesday.
Terrifying scenes broke out as teens clashed amid a crowd of shoppers. Two police officers were injured. Footage has emerged of security guards and officers splitting up the fight and trying to force teens apart.
Scotland Yard said 11 people were arrested for a variety of offences at Westfield including violent disorder, assault and possession of an offensive weapon. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Police were called at 2.34pm on Tuesday to reports of disturbances at Westfield Stratford City in Montfichet Road.
“Officers attended and additional high-visibility patrols were deployed, and groups causing the disorder were dispersed. A total of 11 people were arrested for a variety of offences, and two knives were recovered. Two police officers have received hospital treatment for minor injuries.”
One woman said on social media she was left shaken. “Not entirely sure what happened at Westfield, whether it was a prank or gang fight but all I know is that was the most terrifying experience of my life. All I saw was a stampede of screaming people coming towards me and poor kids being trampled on.”
Another woman said: “Please avoid Westfield Stratford shopping centre big chaos going on because of gang fight.”
On Wednesday, officers released images of three huge knives being carried at the time, highlighting the seriousness of the fight, despite the shopping center playing down the severity of the incident. Westfield Stratford said on Twitter there was a disturbance but insisted the center had not been evacuated.
“There was a minor disturbance early afternoon which has now been resolved. The center was not evacuated and is trading normally. Westfield Stratford City is open until 10pm tonight for Boxing Day sales.”
The number of stabbings in London has sent nationwide knife crime figures to their highest level in more than six years — with a 26 percent leap in offences. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said nearly 37,000 blade offences were committed in England and Wales in the 12 months to the end of June this year.
Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick has promised a crackdown on the growing knife crime problem in the capital. “We have got a lot of knife-carrying and we are bearing down very hard,” Dick told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday.
“We have taken thousands and thousands of knives off the streets. We are doing stop and search in an intelligent way, and we are stopping and searching those people we know are prolific knife carriers.”