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Mayor of Tower Hamlets sweeps for weapons around Bromley-by-Bow

PUBLISHED: 19:00 23 March 2018

On previous sweeps, PC Miah has found machetes, drugs and kitchen knives. Picture: Ken Mears

On previous sweeps, PC Miah has found machetes, drugs and kitchen knives. Picture: Ken Mears

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The mayor of Tower Hamlets joined police and rapid response officers on a weapons sweep in Bromley-by-Bow on Friday.

PC Shay Miah and mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs sweeping for weapons by Victoria Park. Picture: Ken MearsPC Shay Miah and mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs sweeping for weapons by Victoria Park. Picture: Ken Mears

In a period which has seen nine fatal stabbings and shootings over eight days, mayor John Biggs accompanied PC Shay Miah and the rapid response team on a search round Gunmakers Lane, adjacent to Victoria Park.

Although just one knife was found, evidence of NOS, or laughing gas cannisters, was discovered, along with a metal bar.

Mayor Biggs said: “People who think they’re big and tough hide weapons in the bushes, and it’s about disrupting those networks.

“Whenever you have an incident, if you look in the background, you’ll find that people have been allowed to think they’ve got control of that area. “This a message to people to be vigilant.”

PCSO Richard Lewis on the weapons sweep. Picture: Ken MearsPCSO Richard Lewis on the weapons sweep. Picture: Ken Mears

The search was led by PC Shay Miah, who’s done almost 20 sweeps across Tower Hamlets. The most successful, in Poplar, recovered a machete, two hammers, a kitchen knife and a stash of drugs.

PC Miah said: “Police get told we don’t do enough, or we do too much stop and search. We are doing everything, but it’s not publicised to the community. So my plan was to do a community weapons sweep, and involve influential members of the community, like rabbis and imams, to relay what we do back to their respective groups.

“If you don’t find things like knives, at least you’re still giving reassurance to the community by doing sweeps. Also, if you find NOS cannisters, it’s still useful because that’s evidence of anti-social behaviour.

PC Miah also addressed the issue of stop and search. He explained that weapons sweeps are intelligence-led, meaning officers search areas where they’ve been given reason to believe there’s weapons around, and it’s the same with stop and search.

“Before here I was on a 999 emergency response team,” he said. “It was instant response, so we were following calls or CCTV. There were times where we had to follow tip-offs, and if we were told to follow someone in a blue hoody, for instance, we’d search everyone with a blue hoody.

“I think there’s a misconception in the public about stop and search. We’re following intelligence, and in a high pressured situation, we have to follow the intelligence we’re given.”

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