The Met’s latest new recruits are ready to tackle crime on London’s streets at a “challenging” time for the force, the head of Scotland Yard said.
A “significant” terrorist threat and gang crime are among some of the issues facing the new officers as they take up their new roles in Britain’s largest police service, said Cressida Dick.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ms Dick inspected more than 70 new police constables at their passing out parade at the Met’s training academy in Hendon, in the north of the capital on Friday.
London has been badly hit this year with a number of fatal stabbings and shootings.
Ms Dick told the Press Association: “This is a challenging time but we’ve faced lots of other challenging times over the years.
“It’s a challenging time, but I’ve just been speaking to these officers and they’re loving what they’re doing. It’s interesting, it’s fulfilling, it’s varied.”
Asked if she was confident this latest batch are ready for those challenges ahead, she said: “I am. They’re great recruits. The standard of them is very good.”
Violent crime has risen nationally in the past few years, and in London this year Met figures, as of the end of July, showed there had been 87 homicides, with the rise partly fuelled by street violence.
Ms Dick described as “tragic” the young age of some of those often involved in gang-related incidents, either as suspects or victims.
She said: “We have had a number of homicides over the last 12 or 18 months which have been very clearly gang-related, very clearly related to drug dealing, and indeed some of the most difficult to investigate are some of the ones that involve our young people, our 14-, 15-, 16 year-olds as suspects and indeed as victims, have involved exactly that. And it’s tragic.”
Sources have said one line of inquiry into the death of seven-year-old Joel Urhie on Tuesday in a suspected arson attack is that it was gang-related amid reports the victim’s brother Sam, 21, may have been the target.
The commissioner said Joel’s death in Deptford was a “heinous crime”, but would not comment on a possible gang link.
She said: “Joel’s death is absolutely tragic. He’s a little seven-year-old innocent boy. It appears that the fire at his home was started deliberately so we must investigate that thoroughly.
“It’s a heinous crime. We will do that (investigate) and we will continue to keep an open mind.”