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Hunting down violence

PUBLISHED: 15:24 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:12 11 August 2010

POLICE marked White Ribbon day by swooping on a series of addresses to arrest violent offenders in Operation Athena. Officers targeted the perpetrators of domestic, hate, homophobic or racially aggravated crime. It was part of a city wide campaign support

POLICE marked White Ribbon day by swooping on a series of addresses to arrest violent offenders in Operation Athena.

Officers targeted the perpetrators of domestic, hate, homophobic or racially aggravated crime.

It was part of a city wide campaign supporting White Ribbon day on November 25, which challenges violence against women.

In Barking and Dagenham a total of 20 people were arrested in dawn house calls by several teams of police.

Officers set out in force at 6am to knock on the doors of violent offenders or criminals with a history of violent behaviour.

Two arrests were made for harassment, two for actual bodily harm (ABH), one for criminal damage, one for racially aggravated public disorder, two more criminal damage and breach of a non molestation order, and one man was arrested for collecting his dead father's pension for more than a year.

Suspects were interviewed and charged at Barking police station.

DS Louise Sheppard: "We started off with 23 targets this morning; so far there have been 10 arrests.

"We expect a further three to attend the police station today.

"These are people who have children or are elderly or unwell."

One of the offenders who attended by appointment was a 75-year-old woman who had been taunting her gay neighbours with homophobic jibes.

The ongoing Operation Athena will continue for another 16 days.

DS Sheppard said: "This was like a boost on top of the ongoing fight against hate crimes.

"It is a very practical way of doing these operations, more staff - more arrests.

"It reinforces to the public that we are taking an active stance using our partner agencies, such as domestic violence advocates."

Advocates are council workers who go on 999 calls with police at weekends, they specialise in dealing with victims of violence.

DI Shab Chaudhri said: "They are an invaluable resource and give loads of practical advice.

"Advocates give immediate support, and their presence has resulted in more arrests and better care for victims."

Police are keen for victims to come forward, but also for friends, family or neighbours to report domestic violence to the authorities.

DI Chaudhri said: "People should not suffer in silence. If you are aware of some form of violence taking place then you should contact police.

"I have seen tragic instances in the past where a victim, in this case a young pregnant woman, was attacked in her home.

"Her neighbours heard screams but did nothing because they thought it was not their business.

"That young mother died, we all have a duty to do the right thing.

"The key message is that we will continue to proactively seek out violent offenders to hold them to account.

"The borough has a newly formed manhunt team trained especially to do just that.

"These officers proactively target the most violent offenders in the community, track them down, arrest them, and bring them to justice.

"Domestic violence comes in many different forms; we will hold to account those who mistakenly think they are above the law.


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