How London Police Investigate Black-On-Black Homicides


As part of an international exchange of reporters, the Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton examines the London police’s Operation Trident, created a decade ago to address the growing problem of black-on-black gun crime in Britain’s Afro-Caribbean and black communities. The impetus was a wave of killings, along with the black community’s distrust of police. With 300 officers and a budget of $44 million, Trident investigates homicides and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on slick public-relations campaigns aimed at diverting young men from gun violence.

In a large conference room in a downtrodden northern borough of the city, about 25 detectives are packed around a long table, sharing intelligence and dividing up tasks such as checking surveillance camera footage, searching for evidence and interviewing witnesses. Later they will head to a busy subway station in search of somebody – anybody – who saw something. Today marks seven days since the victim’s death, and detectives want to swarm the area looking for potential witnesses who might be repeating a weekly pattern. “I feel sure – in fact I’m certain – that somebody saw something, no matter how insignificant,” Detective Constable Steve Lawrence tells a dozen transportation officers brought in to assist. “There’s a story to tell here.”

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