As the capital gears up to host the seasonal influx of tourists, Christmas shoppers and celebratory events, the Metropolitan Police Service has launched a major operation with a whole range of tactics designed to cut crime and reassure the public.
Under Operation Winter Nights, officers are out in force providing an increased presence across all 32 boroughs this festive season, working with partner agencies to ensure the safety of Londoners and those working in and visiting the capital.
There will be police activity on every borough to support this initiative, with local officers supported by specialist colleagues including the TSG, traffic and dogs units to tackle a range of crime, including alcohol-related violence, licence breaches and theft.
As part of this work, the MPS is also targeting those who take advantage of this time of year to commit sexual offences and there will also be a concerted focus on vulnerable and missing young people in the capital.
Operational activity will include:
• Increased patrols in busy areas at key times, such as town centres, transport hubs and shopping areas.
'• Plain-clothed and uniform officers will be working in and around licensed premises to identify potential sexual offenders and others who pose a risk to vulnerable people, taking action to reduce the opportunity for sexual offences taking place.'
• Joint working with charities the NCPCC and Missing People to identify and support vulnerable and missing young people in the capital.'
• Working with partners to create 'safe zones' at transport hubs where members of the public out at night can access advice on how to get home safely. '
• Covert operations and high-visibility patrols by the MPS Safer Transport Command to tackle theft and pickpockets, along with cab operations targeting ‘touting’ and ‘plying for hire’ to improve the safety of those who use taxis and minicabs to get home after a night out.
'• Visits to licensed premises targeting offences including licence breaches by venues and the selling of knives, alcohol and cigarettes to under-age customers'
• Weapons sweeps on estates
'• Officers will be engaging with schools around personal safety and providing an increased presence on routes to and from school. '
• The proactive enforcement of dispersal zones targeting anti-social behaviour and controlled drinking zones. '
• Officers issuing personal safety advice to the public.
Commander Mak Chishty, leading Operation Winter Nights, said: “The MPS wants Londoners and our many daily visitors to be able to enjoy this festive season safely and be reassured that the police are providing an increased and visible presence on the streets and in your neighbourhoods. Throughout December, we will be carrying out a whole range of activities designed to cut crime and reassure the public, working with our partner agencies to make sure that crime does not pay and that public safety is maintained at this busy time of year.”
Personal safety advice:
We all have a responsibility to ensure our personal safety. There are a number of steps you can take when out and about enjoying this festive season, such as:
• Avoid dark or deserted areas late at night.
• Be discreet with your belongings; displaying expensive jewellery or electronic devices, like mobile phones or cameras, could attract unwanted attention.'
• Plan your journey or night out.'
• Stay aware of what is going on around you and away from situation that you do not feel comfortable with.
'• Never accept a drink from anyone you do not completely trust'
• When enjoying a night out stay in groups or with friends and watch out for one another. '