Year-long sting sees almost 150 arrests made and dozens of weapons seized

Almost 150 people have been arrested and more than 50 weapons seized following a year-long police sting to disrupt violence on the streets of South London.

The Metropolitan Police joined forces with the British Transport Police (BTP) and Kent Police from August last year to form Operation Avara, working together to tackle violence centred around transport hubs.

Met officers were based at various locations around South-east London and Kent in a bid to bear down on violence in the area.

In all 145 arrests were made and 56 weapons were seized, including three firearms, 36 knives and 17 other weapons including police-style batons and knuckledusters.

In one instance, officers stopped a man travelling with a military-style commando knife, which was immediately seized and the man was arrested. He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.

The arrests varied from individuals wanted for robbery, burglary, sexual assault and possession of firearms.

Chief Inspector Mick Chattenton, of the Met South East Command Unit, said: “This work has been so successful that we now plan to run the operation proactively for the foreseeable future.

“During August alone we made 20 arrests, these were for offences such as possession of an offensive weapon and for drug supply.

“We will continue to be out in force at transport hubs around South-east London over the coming months.

“Working together with BTP and Kent police has been instrumental in bearing down on violence.

“Sharing information and strengthening our numbers with this support led to a reassuring police presence and clearly notable results.”

“It was the passion of PC James Robinson, Sergeant Matthew Hunter from our Command Unit and Sergeant Ben Jones of the British Transport Police to make the communities of London safer, that led to this sterling effort and, one-year-on from launching, we are going from strength to strength.”

Superintendent Chris Horton, of the British Transport Police, said: “This has clearly been a highly successful operation alongside our colleagues from the Met and Kent police, and it is a great example of what we have to gain from working together.

“Preventing serious violence and knife crime on the rail network remains one of the highest priorities for BTP, and we are committed to ensuring everyone has a safe journey.

“By using knife arches and stop and search powers in a controlled way, we’ve been able to seize more than 50 weapons before they’re used to potentially take a life.

“Fortunately, assaults involving a weapon on the railway are extremely rare, and operations like this are part of our commitment to keeping our network safe.”

Call  Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit their website here to report crime.

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