BY Tim Dickens and Darwin Aguirre-Taipe
A heavy police presence at Brixton Tube Station led to a number of arrests this afternoon as part of a planned police operation.
As a part of a larger project planned today, called Brixton Unite, officers were out in force stopping members of the public as they left the station.
The police day of action included British Transport Police, Trident Gang Command, the Tactical Support Group (TSG) and local officers. There were also 20 stalls in Windrush Square handing out information to encourage young people into training and work.
The event – organised together with Lambeth council – was originally planned to include UK Border Agency action, evictions, dawn raids and knife arches, but these plans were scrapped after heavy criticism from activist Lee Jasper yesterday.
The Brixton Blog was outside Brixton Tube station as police, some in plain clothes, brought out arrested suspects in handcuffs.
One passer-by, named Maliki, said: “I think it’s overwhelming and scary for the children, it should be more discrete. It’s just too much, it just gives Brixton a bad name.”
She added that she doesn’t feel any safer with this amount of police out, feeling that this was just done to impress.
Commenting on Brixton Blog, Andrew Watson said; “The money spent on this type of PR event would be much better spent providing community policing with increased foot patrols.”
Police were also present outside Brixton overground station and some traffic stops were performed behind the Brixton Academy in Stockwell Park Walk . Elsewhere TSG officers patrolled Electric Avenue speaking to traders and reportedly asking questions about immigration.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Neighbourhoods, said: “We are working with the community to make sure the gang problems don’t return. The recent fatalities show how urgent this work is.
“We are doing all we can, and now we want the people from our communities to take responsibility for these issues. .
“We don’t want that void to be filled by others who will potentially carry on perpetrating harm on their own community. We need local people to embrace the opportunities on offer and help those at risk of committing offences avoid the lifestyle that inevitably leads to prison, poverty and misery for all affected.”
Lee Jasper, who yesterday likened the plans to the Operation Swamp tactics in Brixton in 1981 that went on to spark wide scale riots, said the main body of the policing operation had been cancelled at the last minute after pressure from him and the Community Police Consultative Group (CPCG).
He said: “The whole operation has now been down scaled and replaced by a small scale crime awareness event and some parking and ticket tout activity.
“Many thanks to those who supported the efforts to prevent this happening.”
Detective Chief Inspector Claire Crawley, Trident Central Gangs Unit, said: “Trident has been working in Lambeth since June 2013, not only from an enforcement side but also working in partnership with an extensive network of providers who can support and provide opportunities to exit a gang culture.
“Brixton Unite demonstrates Lambeth’s communities coming together to support the fight against gang crime and should send a message to those involved in gangs that there is a way out and that there are organisations we can put them in touch with that will help turn their lives around, from mentors, to education centres to potential employers.”