Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Dawn Raid on the Dogs That Menace London

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Dawn Raid on the Dogs That Menace London

Article excerpt

Byline: Kit Malthouse

AS DAWN broke last Thursday I was in a room in Lambeth with 75 police officers. I'd been invited to witness the seizure of illegal pit bull terriers from local gang members. In the briefing, officers were matter-of-factly tasked with entering the homes of violent men and tangling with dogs trained to commit grievous bodily harm.

As we approached the first door on a silent, sunny street, the dogs sensed our presence and started barking. My stomach clenched. Just outside the door, members of the Met's new Status Dogs Unit stood armed with nooses and fire extinguishers, the only effective non-lethal weapons against pit bulls. A bang, crash and they were in. Two minutes later they emerged with two illegal "weapon dogs".

The same act of casual courage was repeated by officers 15 times that morning, yielding 20 pit bulls that had been terrorising neighbourhoods.

Since it began in March, the unit has pulled in more than 200 dogs.

Three weeks earlier, at a similarly ungodly hour, I had been in the control room of Operation Hawk, during which 256 known violent offenders across the capital were arrested in one day.

This is what policing in London looks like in July 2009, and it's why Simon Jenkins's article this week about who controls policing in the capital is so out of step with the times. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned from the G20 protests. But Jenkins begs the question when he makes the protests a proxy for how the Met operates, and proof that the organisation can't change.

While Jenkins has been fulminating about cops' failings, he has missed profound shifts at the Met over the past 14 months. Since the change of Mayor and Metropolitan Commissioner, operations such as those I've described have been the real story of the Met. They reflect a sharpened focus on the issues that face Londoners, alongside an increasing sense that the Met have customers who pay a lot of money for their services, and deserve to get what they need. …

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