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Met Police 'Operation Continuum' war on Bethnal Green's drug-dealers makes 114 arrests in 5 weeks

PUBLISHED: 17:10 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:28 20 March 2019

High visibility street patrol by police and council officers. Picture: Rehan Jamil/LBTH

High visibility street patrol by police and council officers. Picture: Rehan Jamil/LBTH

© Rehan Jamil

The war on street drug dealers and runners in Bethnal Green has led to 114 arrests and more than 300 ‘stop-and-search’ incidents in just five weeks often using council CCTV surveillance, police statistics reveal this week.

Council staff monitoing drug-dealing activity on CCTV. Picture: LBTHCouncil staff monitoing drug-dealing activity on CCTV. Picture: LBTH

The Met’s ‘Operation Continuum’ included 27 warrants being served with arrests including 52 drug supply and conspiracy charges between January 28 and March 1.

Police seized £10,000 cash as well as Class A drugs, several zombie-style knives and six vehicles used for drug dealing.

“This is the culmination of months of covert police activity,” Det Chief Insp Mike Hamer after one major raid. “We’ve targeted dealers mainly around Bethnal Green.

“Drug dealing is linked to violent crime on our streets—so we’ll deal robustly with those who peddle drugs, exploit young people and target the vulnerable for the sole purpose of financial gain, often leading to violence.”

Many raids were carried out using Tower Hamlets Council’s CCTV network to pinpoint illicit street deals and track dealers’ cars.

Staff working round the clock at the council’s monitoring centre on the Isle of Dogs identified drug dealing activity and alerted police. Dealers often returned to find their fast cars taken to the council’s car pound near Limehouse, often after tip-offs from the public.

Suspect car being lifted in Operation Continuum to clear streets of Bethnal Green from drug-dealers. Picture: LBTHSuspect car being lifted in Operation Continuum to clear streets of Bethnal Green from drug-dealers. Picture: LBTH

Mayor John Biggs warned: “We’ll use our powers to clamp down on criminal activity to get drug dealers off our streets.’’

There were 317 ‘stop-and-search’ incidents and 21 sweeps searching for hidden weapons at known “storage hotspots”, which uncovered six knives—five from one sweep alone, the data seen by the East London Advertiser shows.

Some arrests followed surveillance on the council’s street cameras which were used to identify and even follow vehicles suspected of drug-dealing.

Some 65 ‘high visibility’ street patrols were carried out, as well as four school patrols to reassure parents about drug dealers who plague neighbourhoods around schools, with nearly 2,000 leaflets being handed out.

The council served two repossession notices on tenants whose properties had been raided and issued 28 parking tickets on cars known for drug-dealing.

But officers also assessed 26 addicts who were referred for treatment through the Arrest Referral team at Bethnal Green police station.

Operation Continuum also held 17 ‘outreach’ sessions response to the flagrant drug dealing on the streets and the potential grooming of youngsters.

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