Knife arches in public places, weapons searches and CCTV super recognisers are just some of the techniques that will be used by a new team to tackle violent crime in Croydon.

The Violence Suppression Unit has been up and running in the borough since January.

The first of its kind in London, it was set up by the South Area BCU (Basic Command Unit) which also covers Sutton and Bromley.

With one of the highest populations of any London borough, Croydon has been the focus of much of the work so far which has already seen 44 weapons seized, including a gun found down the back of a sofa.

While members of the public have joined officers on weapons searches in areas where they are often hidden.

Chief Inspector Craig Knight revealed more about the new unit at an event held at Croydon Town Hall last night (Tuesday, February 25).

The Violence Suppression Unit is tasked with making sure police are in the right place at the right time and preventing violence happening in Croydon.

ALSO: First picture of Croydon murder victim as police continue to appeal for information

Between January 2019 and 2020 there were 993,882 crimes recorded in Croydon.

But there are 385,000 people in the borough, so this works out as an astonishing rate of 110 per 1000 people.

Ch Insp Knight says this is done by using existing police in a more targeted way.

He said: “The issue that we have in Croydon and nationally is a rise in violence and that has sadly led to people dying through homicide.

“That doesn’t mean you as individuals are any more at risk but it does mean we have to respond effectively to that and the police are front and centre to that alongside you.

“What we are trying to achieve we’re going to target people that are most dangerous to our community, we are going to make their lives difficult.

“We need to target our areas where we are going to have the most impact. Through this unit we are going to co-ordinate the efforts of the police, community and third sector in a different way.”

But how will this be done?

Using the local knowledge of volunteer officers Special Constables.

CCTV super recognisers to identify whether or not known criminals are operating in an area.

Surge days – 100s of police from across London on the streets to increase visibility and speak to local people.

Micro beats – officers being given responsibility for spaces no more than 500 metres and tasked with knowing everything going on in that area

Street based training for police so they can get used to the area and the public can see how they train.

Knife arches in public places to discourage people from carrying weapons.

Weapons sweeps – targeting places where weapons are often hidden and inviting members of the public to join police in their searches.

So far in numbers

22 seized vehicles

44 weapons seized (knives, CS sprays, baseball bats and a gun)

82 community resolutions (things like issuing a warning for possession of cannabis)

110 weapon sweeps

258 arrests

£10,000 of drugs seized

£26,5000 of cash seized from criminals