Justin Davenport, This Is London, November 22, 2010
Operation Trident was launched 12 years ago in response to some of the most terrifying and brutal murders seen on London’s streets.
Two victims were shot dead by a “Yardie” gang from Jamaica described later by a judge at the Old Bailey as an execution squad. One of those killed was an innocent young mother, shot in front of two of her children and her husband.
In the days before Trident, officers investigating so-called black-on-black gun crime faced huge difficulties, with some communities suspicious of them and potential witnesses too terrified to give evidence against the gunmen living among them.
Trident co-opted members of the black community to advise police on how to approach witnesses and communities.
However, the crime issues facing the squad are radically different today. Ten years ago most firearms murders in London were committed by so-called Yardies, Jamaican nationals who were often gang members aged about 28 to 35. Trident’s role then was to investigate all firearms murders in London where both victim and killer were black. The motive usually involved drugs.
Today, the majority of killings Trident looks at are committed by British nationals, mostly in their teens or early twenties. Many are related to gang issues, or to trivial matters of respect, as well as drugs.
The victims and gunmen are usually black or mixed-race, with a blurring of the groups involved in gun crime and the drugs trade. This has led to some senior Scotland Yard officers arguing for a single murder squad for all homicides.
Trident’s role has now evolved to cover all London shootings, black or white. Proactive teams target known gunmen and officers take an anti-crime message to schools, with lessons for children as young as six.