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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Trident: Battling gun crime
New posters forming part of Operation Trident
The campaign includes posters and radio advertisments

London's black-on-black crime team has launched a new advertising campaign to try to reduce gun violence. Is it having any success within the communities it is trying to protect?

If the latest figures for drugs-related gun crime within London's black communities are anything to go by, then 2002 is not shaping up to be a good year for Operation Trident, the city's specialist team focusing on crime committed by black criminals against black communities.

According to the Metropolitan Police's own predictions, 2002 is set to see another massive rise in shootings, murders and attempted murders as a small number of gangs wield an enormous and terrifying sway in pockets of the capital.

So it's not surprising that the Met is ploughing more resources into the problem, including a radio advertisement with music by a top UK garage group, NAP Syndicate.

Operation Trident's figures for drugs-related gun crime make stark reading. So far this year there have been 13 murders.

One of them was a double killing: The first victim had trodden on the gunman's toes in a nightclub and declined to apologise.

The second victim was unfortunate to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when the bullet cut through the first victim and a wall before hitting them too.

Drugs-related shootings are already up 42% on the last year. Some 10% of the incidents involved "drive-by" shootings.

Commander Alan Brown, head of Trident, said that two years after its launch of the special team, the police were working closer than before with the community - but much more work needed to be done.

"We are asking the community to turn away from guns and drugs and the people who supply them.

"If you don't turn away, then there's a cost to the future of the young men growing up in the community."

Commander Brown said he believed that such London's black communities were at a crossroads where there was a chance to break the cycle that was leading more and more young men into drugs-related crime.

"In the communities affected by this blight of gun crime and drugs, there is a real determination to do something about it," he said.

Black drugs crime in Britain has long involved Jamaican Yardie gangsters.

Priscilla Joseph
Priscilla Joseph: "People are frightened"
But Operation Trident says the most concerning element now is how it is going to tackle the increasing numbers of young black British men being sucked into a gun culture imported to deprived communities.

"There is no community that supports offending or offenders, there is no wall of silence," said Commander Brown.

"But there is a lack of evidence. My plea is for the people to come forward because they can make a difference.

"The most concerning aspect is the home-grown culture among some young men where the firearm is seen as something that enforces power and respect.

"We are working with local authorities and voluntary groups to try and impress on these youngsters the dangers that come with firearms."

Lee Jasper, London mayor Ken Livingstone's race adviser and member of Operation Trident's advisory group, appealed to ministers to tackle low educational achievement and employment in some black areas which, he said, was doing nothing to end the growing gun culture.

"These kinds of conditions create a fertile breeding ground within which drug dealers can seduce kids," he said.

"In many cases the drugs industry acts almost like a social services - the families are taken care of, there's a Mercedes at the prison gates, it takes care of its own. The government has to tackle the unemployment that gives rise to this in our communities."

Police relations

The new campaign is targeting six London boroughs: Brent, Hackney, Lambeth, Newham and Southwark.

Radio adverts include a special Operation Trident track recorded by black group NAP Syndicate and also the words and voice of performance poet Priscilla Joseph.

Ms Joseph, 26, said that some young black people did not know where to turn when they witnessed gun crime.

"Some people are frightened and don't know what to do, especially because of the poor relations in the past between the black community and the police," she said.

"Many people regard the police as a friend who has lied to them - they may be trying to make up for it now but it takes time to build that trust. Operation Trident has been a good start so far in repairing that trust."

Trident: Performance Poet
One of the new Met adverts
NAP Syndicate
Hear the Met's UK garage track

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17 Jan 02 | England
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