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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Arrests made in gun crime raids
Police convoy in Lewisham
Twenty police vans headed to Lewisham
Fourteen people were arrested during anti-gun crime raids on properties in south London on Friday - although no guns were recovered.

The arrests brought to 50 the total number of people held as part of the week-long operation targeting Lewisham.

Hundreds of police officers gathered at the Millennium Dome on Friday night before boarding two London buses and 20 police vans and heading to Lewisham.

Some 700 officers descended on a pub, barber's and take-away in the borough.

The raids were the culmination of a week-long initiative following three months of planning.

This area was not safe and now it is becoming safer because it is being taken back into the hands of the police
Janice Gushway
Lewisham independent advisory group
After cordoning off a street, police brought in a high-tech x-ray device designed to detect guns, knives or drugs hidden about the person.

Clearing the three premises they made everyone inside walk past the machine.

No guns were found during Friday's raids, however.

Chief Supt Archie Torrance said: "I believe that although there haven't been any guns recovered at this stage, that it was the right thing to be doing.

"It is something that will reassure local communities."

'Key players'

In the past six weeks officers working on operation Vezere have seized 15 guns, heroin, crack cocaine and tens of thousands of pounds in banknotes.

Chief Supt Torrance said some of those arrested were suspected of being involved in organised crime, or owning premises used as "safe havens" for guns and drugs.

Janice Gushway, vice-chairman of Lewisham's independent advisory group, backed the police tactics.

"We don't think it's heavy-handed," she said.

"This area was not safe and now it is becoming safer because it is being taken back into the hands of the police.

"We want our young people to be drug free and gun free."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hundreds of police took part in the raids



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Police chiefs warn of gun culture
13 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Jamaican link to UK crime
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20 Jan 03  |  England


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