Operation launches in Barking and Dagenham to stop young people becoming involved with gangs

Detective chief inspector Seb Adjei-Addoh, who is leading Operation Riverside for the Met Police. Pi

Detective chief inspector Seb Adjei-Addoh, who is leading Operation Riverside for the Met Police. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

Police have launched an operation to prevent young people from getting involved with gangs in Barking and Dagenham as they return to school for the new term.

Operation Riverside will see enhanced visible patrols at the start and end of the school day along popular school routes, at transport hubs and places where youngsters may gather.

A Met Police spokesperson said “particular attention” will be paid on the start and end of term.

Plans are also in place to work with outreach schemes and charity Victim Support to help vulnerable young people who have been victims of crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Seb Adjei-Addoh, leading the operation for the police, felt that school closures during lockdown and the summer holidays have meant numerous disputes and grudges may have built up between youngsters.

He said: “The steps we are taking now aim to mitigate that threat and reduce the number of youngsters becoming victims of violent crime, gang related or otherwise, while at the same time reducing the number of our youngsters whose lives and future prospects are tainted by a criminal record.”

The operation, which is also happening across Redbridge and Havering, is being carried out in partnership with schools, councils and charities Victim Support and West Ham United Foundation.

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Police said letters have been sent to parents of young people thought to be involved in gang activity or conflict, making them aware of the police activity and encouraging them to deter their children from actions that could negatively affect their future.

Engagement activities will also happen, such as round-table discussions with youngsters at youth clubs and social media forums for parents who have concerns about youth crime and gang culture.

Operation Riverside comes after Barking and Dagenham Council launched the Lost Hours campaign to tackle youth violence by asking parents to take more responsibility for their children’s whereabouts.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “It’s so important that organisations and parents work together on initiatives such as Operation Riverside and the Lost Hours campaign to beat youth violence, because it affects the whole community and ruins lives.”

If you have information about someone involved in crime or who carries a knife, call police on 101, tweet @MetCC, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers_uk.org.

Young people can also visit www.fearless.org, part of Crimestoppers, where they can report information about violence or knife crime anonymously.