40. Memorandum submitted by
This report is submitted to the Home Affairs
Committee in relation to its inquiry into Young Black People and
the Criminal Justice System, by "Trident", the Metropolitan
Police Service unit that investigates violent gun crime within
London's black communities ("Trident Criminality").
The aim of the report is to give an insight
into the causes and theories of Trident criminality. Although
no single explanation is possible, it is hoped that these insights
will assist in understanding why some people from black communities
get involved in Trident criminality and consequently enter the
criminal justice system. The report also contains information
on the ages of those involvedwhich is reducingand
on the career paths of some of those who have become Trident criminals.
Although this report is restricted to Trident matters many of
the factors (eg the reducing age of those involved in violence
and disadvantage) apply to other groups.
It should be noted that this report only gives
a picture of gun crime for the London area.
The data and information used to compile this
document has been obtained from the Metropolitan Police Intelligence
System (CRIMINT), the Metropolitan Police Crime Reporting Information
System (CRIS), Trident databases and Trident staff. The analysis
within this report is either conducted over the financial year
or the calendar year depending on the data sets available.
Serious gun crime within London's black communities
hit the news headlines twice in four days in the summer of 1998
with the shocking and brutal murders of Avril Johnson in Brixton
and Michelle Carby in East London. Both young mothers, who were
at home with their children, were tied up and mercilessly shot
in the head by a Jamaican gang.
Serious gun within black communities continued
to increase and spread across London and on 24 July 2000 the Metropolitan
Police Service officially launched Operation Trident whose brief
was to tackle "Shootings within the black communities of
London". See Appendix A for Terms of Reference.
Chart 1 provides a breakdown of the number of
Trident murders and shooting incidents for the last seven years.
The total number of incidents are illustrated by the black line.
The total incidents are then broken down further by crime classification
into the categories of murder ( line), attempted murder
(- line) and other shootings (solid line) (eg GBH, robbery, criminal
Murders are recorded by the number of victims
as there have been a number of incidents in which there have been
two or more people murdered.
The attempted murder and other shootings offences
are counted by incident. This therefore explains why when the
three categories are added up they do not equal the total incidents.
It should also be noted that the data for 2000-01
might not be accurate and slightly low as Trident was not formed
until July 2000 and offences would have been dealt with by other
units prior to that date.
* 2006-07 data1 April 2006 to 11 March 2007.
Early Trident criminality, in the late 1990s and early 2000s,
was mainly perpetrated by Jamaican-born nationals. In the last
four years there has been a steep rise in the involvement of British-born
suspects, many being second and third generation African Caribbeans
making this more a "home grown" problem. Notwithstanding
that, some of the most violent offences have been committed by
Jamaicans and there is evidence of people whose immigration status
is doubtful exerting fear and dubious influence in British communities.
The nature of Trident criminality makes it difficult to predict,
in that shooting incidents are sporadic. A shooting can be a "one
off" act of disrespect and another such incident may spark
a flurry of activity in the form of reprisals. The majority of
Trident subjects lead chaotic lifestyles and the carrying of firearms
is second nature to them.
Since 1 January 2001 to date (11 March 2007) 1,195 firearm
homicides and shootings have taken place within London's black
communities. Appendix B provides a detailed breakdown of these
incidents by year and borough.
Historically approximately two-thirds of Trident shootings
take place on the Hotspot Boroughs of Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark,
Brent and Haringey. However the last two or three years has seen
the emergence of Lewisham and Waltham Forest as prominent boroughs
for Trident criminality.
In only one of these shooting incidents has a female been
identified as discharging the firearm.
Only one borough in the Metropolitan Police Area, Havering,
has not recorded a Trident shooting incident.
Much of the Trident gun crime is, unsurprisingly, linked
to the poorer London Boroughs, areas of deprivation, high ethnic
minority population and high unemployment. The Index of Multiple
Hackney (second), Southwark (fifth), Haringey (sixth), Lambeth
(seventh) and Brent (thirteenth) as some of the most deprived
boroughs in the London Region. These boroughs also have the highest
density of African Caribbean population in the London Region.
There is evidence that Trident gangs also have links to other
major cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham.
Music venues/clubs continue to attract gun crime offences
often due to particular promoters or groups appearing at the venue.
Also because one particular crew/posse are aware that another
opposing crew/posse frequent those premises and, as such, the
venue becomes an ideal location to commit a shooting.
Since 1 January 2002 a total of 40 life sentences have been
handed down to subjects arrested and charged with murder by Trident.
A total of 3,909 years of imprisonment has been given to subjects
arrested by Trident for the period 1 January 2002 to 9 March 2007.
TRIDENT TERMS OF IMPRISONMENT
Table 1 provides a breakdown of the prison sentences. * 2007
figures 1 January to 9 March.
Recent successful high media trials have seen life convictions
given to the suspects for the murders of:
Seven-year-old Toni-Ann Byfield and her father
in Brent in September 2003.
Zainab Kalokoh at a christening in Peckham
The triple murder of the Morrison sisters
and their mother's partner Noel Patterson in 2005 in Brent.
Since 1 January 2002 in the course of their investigations
and pro-active operations Trident have seized a total of 1,838
firearms and 69,882 rounds of live ammunition.
Trident are working on building confidence in witness protection
systems and take every opportunity to publicise convictions and
sentencing to encourage future victims and witnesses to come forward.
This joint Trident and HM Immigration Service initiative
was commenced in November 2003 aimed at the disruption of Trident
subjects, men of violence, or those involved in criminality that
supports Trident criminality, by means of utilising Immigration
powers of detention and removal from the UK.
The operation focuses on persons identified as illegally
in the UK as a result of Trident operations and intelligence.
This can include not only Trident suspects but also victims and
witnesses, in particular drug dealers who are illegal immigrants
and are often targeted by gangs in drug robberies, which can result
in shootings or retribution attacks. The removal of potential
victims of these gangs is an effective crime reduction tactic
to decrease the opportunity for the commission of such offences.
In the financial year 2005-06 there were 131 Newlandrig arrests
and 75 removals. This included arrests for immigration offences,
possession of false documents and theft/handling of stolen documents.
This ongoing operation continues to make a significant impact
on Trident criminality.
Charts 2 and 3 provide a breakdown by percentage of the ethnicity
by incident for suspects and victims of firearm homicides and
shootings (not including commercial robberies) in the Metropolitan
Police Area for the calendar year 2006. (Ethnicity is classified
by visual description under the police ethnicity codes).
Where mixed group is shown this means two or more suspects
of differing ethnicity eg one White and one African Caribbean.
As can be seen from Chart 2 African Caribbean males commit
79% of these offences whilst most of the mixed group, over 3%,
also involved African Caribbean suspects.
On examining Chart 3 three-quarters of the incidents involve
African Caribbean victims.
Generally the majority of firearm homicides and shooting
incidents are intra-ethnic.
For the financial year 2005-06 analysis was carried out in
relation to the borough on which arrested suspects committed their
Trident criminality in comparison to the borough of their home
address. As can be seen from chart 4 almost two-thirds of Trident
criminality is very localised, with a further quarter of offences
committed on a neighbouring borough.
This confirms the territory theory in relation to conflicts
between gangs from different estates and areas sometimes referred
to as "post code violence" and also drugs turf wars.
Analysis has been conducted around the solvability of Trident
shootings (not including Trident murders) for the financial year
2005-06 whereby the investigating officers were asked to supply
brief details of the current situation of the investigation. The
results are depicted by percentage in chart 5.
The challenge Trident officers face is clearly evident in
40% of the shootings where the victim is unwilling to assist police
even though in many instances the victim knows who the perpetrator(s)
are. Some elect not to help police due to fear of further attacks
on themselves or their family whilst others do not trust the criminal
justice system and seek to "settle the score" themselves
in a revenge shooting.
In 12% of incidents officers are presented with a "crime
scene only" where there are no identified victims or suspects,
the only evidence they have of a shooting being ammunition casings
found at the scene. Gun crime, particularly shooting incidents,
often results in a lack of forensic evidence.
Suspects are charged in just over one-eighth of the incidents.
In around another eighth of the shootings, although arrests are
made there is insufficient evidence to bring charges.
Nearly a fifth of shootings see no suspects identified and/or
a lack of witnesses. The event is so quick that witnesses often
do not see exactly what happened. Witnesses often fail to come
forward and give evidence through fear of reprisals and often
witnesses will fail to turn up at court.
The majority of Trident murders and shootings take place
in the hours of darkness between 10 pm and 3 am. 15% of Trident
incidents take place in or close to nightclubs
where lighting and large crowds make it difficult to clearly see
Although the 2006-07 financial year is not complete yet,
preliminary analysis has been conducted on incidents committed
so far. Current findings show that the percentage of "unwilling
victims" is fairly stable at 43% as are "crime scene
only" at 11%.
The other categories are currently not comparable due to
on-going investigations with suspects still wanted, awaiting charges
or Crown Prosecution Service decisions.
Examination of data for the past two years identifies that
93% of suspects charged with Trident murders and shootings have
previous criminal convictions. Meanwhile 71% of Trident victims
have a criminal record.
Since 1 January 2002 there have been 90 Trident murders within
the black communities of London. Trident murders are often very
complex investigations and some take two or three years to solve.
To date 57% of these murders have seen individuals arrested
and charged. It is anticipated this percentage will increase as
ongoing investigations progress.
When a murder investigation reaches court almost half the
arrested suspects have received life sentences (see Chart 6).
A further eighth of suspects have received terms of imprisonment
for manslaughter. A quarter of cases see the defendants acquitted
or found not guilty whilst 15% of cases are discontinued due to
lack of evidence.
The most worrying trend over recent years is the commission
of Trident offences by younger suspects who do not fit the usual
Chart 7 clearly indicates a decrease in the age of suspects
with 54 teenagers, one being only 14 years of age, being charged
with Trident murders or shootings over the past two years.
Similarly Chart 8 indicates an increase in younger Trident
victims with the peak age being 19 years, the same as that of
Chart 9 provides a breakdown of the ages of Trident murder
victims since 2004. The drop in the age of Trident murder victims
is clearly evident.
VICTIMS OF TRIDENT MURDERS AND SHOOTINGS UNDER THE AGE
|Number of victims||31
|Percentage of victims||16%
Table 2 provides a breakdown by number and percentage of
young Trident victims over the last four years. It confirms the
trend of more teenage involvement, with the percentage having
almost doubled since 2003 with almost a third of Trident victims
in 2006 being aged less than 20 years.
Analysis of Trident Criminal Career Paths and Individual
Case Studies of Trident subjects was completed in April 2005.
This work focused on 15 individuals who had progressed from acquisitive
crime to Trident criminality.
During research and analysis their criminal careers were
tracked including the location of their crimes. Their family background
with regards to parents and fellow siblings was examined including
their criminal history.
Table 3, which has been compiled from arrest data, provides
simplified case studies of the criminal careers of three of these
individuals. The offences listed in each age box are ones that
the subject was involved in during that age year and there is
no specific time scale for that year.
MPSTridentSue Prior, 2005.
Their progression from acquisitive crime to Trident criminality
is clear to see, as is the increasing violence in their activity
particularly in conjunction with drugs offences and also the close
link between drugs and Trident criminality. Also noteworthy is
the expulsion from school of all three individuals.
Youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18 years, who are unemployed
and cannot claim benefit, are particularly at risk from drugs
suppliers who recruit them to deal, which provides them with an
Progression from acquisitive crime to firearms offences and
Trident criminality is quite swift. This is highlighted in chart
10, which shows that the peak time span for these fifteen individuals
to progress from their first arrest to an arrest for firearms
offences is just six years.
Other key findings from the research study are shown below:
On average 73% of the offences for which these
subjects were arrested were committed on their home borough, usually
in close proximity to their home address.
All of the shootings committed by these individuals
outside of their borough of residence were at nightclubs.
Eight of these individuals (53%) had been arrested
for the supply of drugs.
Fourteen of these subjects had served a term of
imprisonment by the age of 19 years.
All fifteen of these individuals had been arrested
by the age of 15 years (Chart 11).
Seven of these subjects (47%) had never claimed
any benefits from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).
Where the subject's father had been identified
75% had a criminal record.
50% of these subjects' mothers had criminal records.
Where the subject had elder siblings one or more
of them had a criminal record.
Where these subjects had younger siblings 53%
had criminal records.
Two of the subjects had family members who had
been convicted of murder.
It should be remembered that this study was on a very small
sample of only fifteen individuals, who came from one London borough.
However, it does provide a good insight into the background and
criminal careers of these young black males.
Such profiles can change rapidly and this research has not
included study of the interventions that were tried with this
Trident criminality is a complex issue with numerous theories
as to its causal factors. Many of these have recently been debated
following the three firearm murders of teenagers in South London.
Appendix C provides a detailed chart encompassing the many
theories of the influencing factors pertinent to Trident criminality.
This chart was compiled using the knowledge and experience of
Trident Police Officers and staff gained through intelligence
gathering, investigation and liaising with members of the black
communities of London.
UK criminals at all levels are unlikely to have difficulty
in acquiring a firearm should they wish to do so. However, knowledge
of how and where criminals acquire firearms is limited. Firearms
and their component parts can be sourced from internet sites,
usually from countries where possession is legal, such as the
USA. The internet is an easy and comparatively safe way to acquire
firearms, and has made them more accessible to would-be UK buyers.
Firearms sent by ordinary post not only cost less to import, but
effectively go hidden amongst the vast volume of post arriving
daily in the UK. There is some intelligence to indicate that complete,
genuine firearms are sourced this way, although most recoveries
have been of readily convertible blank-firing weapons.
The number of firearms seized on entry would suggest that
firearms are generally being smuggled into the UK on a small scale.
A recent assessment highlights that firearms seized at UK
points of entry originate from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Croatia,
with limited intelligence indicating that Belgium, France, Germany,
Ireland, The Netherlands and Spain are transit countries for the
supply of illicit firearms to the UK.
The Metropolitan Police Service and Greater Manchester Police
have highlighted the importation of Baikal firearms. It is believed
these are being converted and imported from a factory in Lithuania
and smuggled into the UK. The Metropolitan Police suggests more
than one network is involved in supplying these weapons to the
UK, as they are being sold to Organised Criminal Gangs from differing
We would recommend that further research by relevant partners
could be considered, as follows:
Further research as to why younger people are
getting involved in gun crime.
Further research into the risks related to exclusion
The further development of a risk assessment tool backed
up by inter-agency working along the lines of the MAPPAs (Multi
Agency Public Protection Arrangements) might be valuable.
We support the recommendations made in the ACPO Submission
Increased educational and welfare support for
young black people to the age of 21.
Incentives for young people to find and remain
Greater emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation
initiatives as opposed to enforcement leading to increased criminalisation
of young black people.
Trident Murders and Shooting Incidents in and outside Nightclubs,
Bars and Public Houses-2001-06-November 2006. Back
Lambeth Borough Police "Tackling Gun Crime" workshop-8
to 9 September 2005. Back
ACPO Criminal Use of Firearms Portfolio-2007. Back