Weapons found in sweep of Southwark by police and council

A successful partnership between Met officers and community wardens from Southwark council is celebrating several months of positive results as it embarks on further initiatives to help keep Londoners safe.

Local officers and cadets regularly join forces with the wardens from the local authority to conduct community engagement patrols and weapon sweeps – most recently on Sunday and on December 18 and 19.

Dedicated local cadets and wardens will also be coming together on New Year’s Eve to carry out further patrols and searches of weapons hotspots in selected locations across Southwark.

Weapons found include a Japanese sword with a 20-inch blade found concealed in a grassy area on the Brandon Estate in Oval, a brown-handled knife with an eight-inch blade found hidden within an intake cupboard on the Kinglake Estate in Elephant and Castle, and a large machete found in a tank room, also in the SE17 area.

The warden who found the latter item in a block in Royal Road, Vauxhall, said: “We decided to have a look in the water tank room which services the block. The tank itself is situated on a steel girder and wooden base, leaving a gap between the floor and the base of the unit.

“When I got on my hands and knees and shone my torch between the gap, I could make out something but not what it was, so I had to get on my stomach to get a better look – I then realised it was a machete concealed in a black sheath. It was incredibly well hidden.”

There are 30 wardens covering the streets, estates, parks and open spaces around the borough.

The majority of wardens are based at Southwark police station, working alongside officers from Met neighbourhoods and night-time economy teams.

Wardens have been co-located since 2016, resulting in closer working, information sharing and the pooling of resources for joint operations.

Ruth Backhurst, the manager of the Community Warden Service, said: “Every single weapon found is another life potentially saved. I am incredibly proud of the partnership work carried out.

“Some wardens seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to weapon sweeps, meticulously searching restricted areas, internal and external communal areas, parks and other open spaces. They find all sorts of items of interest, ranging from the horrific to the bizarre.

“The MPS Community Safety Accredited Scheme (CSAS) wardens carry out a wide range of activities, including tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, environmental enforcement, and they are currently supporting the council’s response to Covid-19 by delivering PPE, supporting the testing centre, monitoring social distancing guidelines, checking hotspots and observing business compliance.”

Partnership Inspector Dave Laurie, from the Met’s Central South Command Unit, said: “Joint patrols between our borough officers, cadets and the Southwark Local Authority Wardens have been tremendously successful.

“It gives our communities a clear message that we are an effective collaborative partnership working together to tackle their issues and helping them feel safer.”

Pictured top: A machete found in Southwark


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