‘Every gun we take off the street is a couple of lives saved’: Head of investigations on tackling violent crime in east London

Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers. Picture: Met Police

Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

In the first of a series of features shining a light on the work of the Met Police across Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, reporter Michael Cox speaks to Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers on his role as head of local investigations and much more...

“I think if we don’t let the public know what we’re doing, we’re failing.” That’s the view of Det Supt Paul Trevers, who has amassed 26 years of experience during his policing career.

He joined the East Area six months ago to manage the local investigations strand, where he gives strategic support to detective inspectors.

His department leads on violent crime - a gangs unit proactively targets those vulnerable to crime and those vulnerable to committing it, while he is responsible for the day-to-day deployment of the violence suppression unit (VSU) aimed at stopping violence across the three boroughs.

DSU Trevers also oversees a burglary and robbery team and said detection rates for these offences had risen in the past six months.

He said: “Whereas violence we tended to think used to be the fights in the street on a Friday night, it now also incorporates knife crime, gang crime, gun crime, robbery and drugs supply.

“There’s such a link between drugs and violence - drugs seems to be the glue that brings it all together in terms of criminality.”

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DSU Trevers felt the VSU has been a “phenomenal” success in helping to prevent violence.

In the last three months across all three boroughs, the team has made 262 arrests and taken 44 weapons.

Nine firearms have also been seized and the top detective said: “We are really determined to stop violence in all forms. Clearly when you start talking knives and guns it’s a different level.

“They’ve made some really positive impacts in taking knives and guns off the street. For every gun we take off the street, hopefully that’s a couple of victims’ lives we’ve saved.”

DSU Trevers has spent 23 years of his policing career in the criminal investigation department (CID) and revealed the evolution of technology means police are now less reliant than they used to be on victim statements.

But he said that officers still need to gain the trust of those who may be unwilling to cooperate, such as young people or victims of gang related crime.

Gangs unit officers go out proactively on plain clothes patrols and carry out warrants, but also support youths vulnerable to committing crime.

He said his engagement team are not looking at sending those youngsters to jail, adding: “They are looking at giving them diversion and training. A lot of it is self esteem. These poor kids, their future is so uninspiring and it is about giving them that inspiration to say ‘you’re better than this’.”

“As a community we need to give young people falling into violence a better opportunity. It’s really tricky when you have got young, vulnerable people seeing they can get a £120 pair of trainers for a day’s work when that sort of opportunity, in the loosest sense, doesn’t come around too often in the working sector.

“It needs to be a collaborative approach. I’ve got a fantastic gangs engagement team doing some truly innovative work around parenting, a lot of engagement with parents of young, vulnerable people.”

DSU Trevers previously worked as a DI at Redbridge ten years ago but, since then, the Met has created a multi-borough policing system, merging commands in Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham to create the East Area Basic Command Unit.

He said: “At leadership level, I think it’s been really positive. People committing crime don’t work on boroughs. The leadership team is responsible for such a large part of London that you can pick up those crime trends, patterns and problems.

“I think at DC, PC level they are probably feeling the pain a bit because the level of resourcing that would have been across three boroughs does not reflect what it was two years ago. There’s no criticism of that, austerity has hit the lower ranks really hard.”

Moving forward, he is planning to set up a satisfaction board, to improve the service afforded to victims of crime, and is “determined” to bring violence down across the three boroughs.

Despite the challenges, DSU Trevers said that being a detective is the “best job in the world”.

“It’s really tricky, the hours are long but the things I’ve seen and involved myself in as a detective at all ranks, I genuinely don’t think there’s a better job out there.

“You can go from one day investigating a murder to one day investigating an armed robbery.

“Every day is different and I’ve had so much fun. I’ll have some great stories to tell the grandkids one day.”