[from Islington Gazette]
Street has been a thorn in our side, says police chief
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
|Islington Police Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Bob Carr: “We have found that people are fed up with crime in the area|
MORE than 600 police closed off Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, and raided 19 shops, cafes and flats in a huge blitz on crime last Thursday.
Two separate convoys of 40 riot vans descended on the street from either end at around 2.15pm, in one of the Metropolitan Police’s biggest ever raids, as part of the operation, codenamed Mista.
Helicopters circled overhead as police, wearing body armour, stormed the road in chaotic scenes hoping to arrest some of 70 targeted suspects. A number of people were arrested during the crackdown on drug dealing, handling stolen goods and the production of forged documents in what is the heart of London’s Algerian community.
Hours earlier, in separate raids in the north London area, 35 people were arrested and forged documents, passports and drugs were recovered as well as stolen goods including laptops, cameras, iPods and sat-nav systems.
Officers from the Met, the British Transport Police and Immigration Services were involved in the operation.
Chief Superintendent Bob Carr, the head of Islington police, said: “Blackstock Road has long been a thorn in our side and hard to penetrate from our perspective.
“The reason we used so many officers was to avoid a riot and because of the presence we saw minimal resistance. We have done a lot of open work here in the last year and we have found that people are fed up with the crime in the area and are fed up with criminals hiding behind the Algerian community.
“These raids were the culmination of many months of planning and more than 1,100 officers were involved in the planning and execution of the raids. Blackstock Road is a difficult area to penetrate as it is a close-knit area where outsiders are noticed quickly. We are also very keen not to criminalise the whole community.
“I think this operation will get rid of a lot bad people in the community and we will be going into every shop and explaining what happened and why we were there.
“The Safer Neighbourhoods teams who work closely with the local communities will now be engaging with key partners and residents to make the Blackstock Road area a safer place for those who live and work in the local community.”
35 people arrested in 6am raids of 37 residential addresses throughout north London and other towns
46 people arrested in afternoon raids of 19 shops, cafes and flats in a closed off section of Blackstock Road
27 people have been charged as a result of both raids
Charges include supplying Class A drugs, handling stolen goods and supplying fraudulent documents.