A seven-month police operation came together today as more than 300 officers raided 20 homes at dawn across Wandsworth, Merton and Lambeth.

Twenty people have been arrested in the penultimate phase of Operation Vickers, which targets drugs markets and associated offending such as knife crime, other violence, theft and anti-social behaviour.

The raids, which focused on the Surrey Lane and Doddington Estates, sought out those who supply drugs and target the vulnerable such as recruiting young people to carry weapons and drugs.

Superintendent Peter Gardner, who attended a raid at Cranmer House in Surrey Lane where three were arrested and drugs seized, said: “Our priorities are around protecting vulnerable people.

“These are exactly the types of crimes that target them so it’s absolutely critical we get it right.”

Wimbledon Guardian:
Man arrested in Cranmer House as part of Operation Vickers

Knife crime was also a focus of the operation. 

In Wandsworth, although the lowest rise in London’s inner city boroughs, it has gone up by 14.5 per cent in the year leading up to May.

The huge operation relied heavily on intelligence from the community and local authority who worked closely with the police.

To reduce criminal activity, Superintendent Gardner said: “It needs to be more of a wider societal thing. One of my favourite expressions is it takes a village to raise a child.

“It’s not just police action- these aren’t things you can just arrest your way out of.

“We are so reliant on working with our community and working with the local authority. Together we want to insure people involved in crime don’t just have the criminal justice system but the support and the opportunity to move out of the lifestyle or be diverted from it in the first place.”

Wimbledon Guardian:

Three people- two men and one woman- were arrested at Cranmer House

The huge number involved in the raids was due to the seriousness of the offences and included detectives, neighbourhood and emergency response officers.

From an early stage, Operation Vickers was conducted with full knowledge and cooperation of Wandsworth Council and all departments within it.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “This was a major operation against the organised drug dealers who cause such distress and misery to local communities.

“I want to the thank all of the police officers involved in these raids and I’m very proud of the role the council’s community safety, children's safeguarding, CCTV and housing teams have played in supporting our police colleagues.”

Wandsworth Borough Commander Peter Laverick stressed the importance of engaging with residents and urged them to communicate their concerns.

He said: “Today’s operation is indicative of our commitment to keep our community safe and listen to and act on community concerns and intelligence. Our aim is disrupt and dismantle crime, safeguard our community and locate and prosecute the people who inflict misery on them.

“I would like to thank those in our community for supporting us in this instance. I hope they can see that our actions, in conjunction with the local authority show we do act on their concerns.”

Those arrested remain in custody at a south-west London police station pending further enquiries.

Tune in to Wandsworth Radio at 6pm Friday, July 14 to hear a report on the raids