London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come under pressure to stop the London Metropolitan police’s “crazy” plans to send armed patrols into communities, as critics warn such a move will only increase the risk of violent crime.
The proposals have been drawn up by the Met police in an effort to restore public confidence and safety, after a spike in violent crime in the UK’s capital, but the idea has faced stinging criticism, the Guardian reports.
The paper reports that an email has been sent out by Scotland Yard to a select number of community leaders, outlining their plans in response to the knife crime epidemic.
The Met email says: “There has been recent internal discussion around using additional armed support to patrol on foot amongst local communities, with their weapons visible and accessible.
“The purpose of any such initiative must be to enhance public and unarmed officer safety, and to improve not hinder community confidence.”
The measures would only be temporary and conducted for short periods of time, they added.
The vast majority of British police officers are unarmed, with only 10 percent volunteering to carry a gun. Armed officers patrol in vehicles, and are only on foot in areas that are potential terrorist targets.
Stafford Scott of the Monitoring Group, a leading anti-racism charity which campaigns against what it sees as police injustice, claims the move will be seen by many in the communities patrolled as a ramping up of aggression against them by the state.
“The more oppressive the policing and state response is, the more the violence will increase. These kids have been bullied by the police and its partners for most of their lives,” Scott said.
Len Duvall, a Labour member of the London Assembly and former chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the body which used to oversee the Met, says Khan needs to step in and stop the plans being rolled out as they don’t make any sense.
Duvall said: “Now the police with guns are in cars, in central London because of the terrorist threat, or for a specific operation.
“Police walking around a [council] estate with guns is a crazy thing. It creates a different atmosphere. It does not make sense and has not been thought through.”
According to official statistics from the Met Police, stabbings in the capital have risen 16 percent in 2018, as knife crime surges across the UK. There were 1,299 stabbings in London up to the end of April. Excluding terrorist attacks, there was a 12-percent rise in murders – the highest figures in a decade.
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