Met Police gang raid
More than 700 Met Police officers played a role in operation across south-east LondonMet Police

Violent gangs across London have been targeted by more than 700 Metropolitan Police officers in one of the largest ever series of raids by the force.

Forty one people, 40 men and one woman, were arrested during dawn raids in south-east London which aimed to dismantle organised criminal networks suspected of committing hundreds of offences including burglary, theft, fraud, motor vehicle crime, drug dealing, money laundering and violent crime.

Raids took place at 53 addresses in Bexley, Lewisham, Greenwich and Bromley during this morning's (24 March) coordinated action.

The operation was executed after two years of gathering evidence and is one of the largest ever to be carried out to tackle serious acquisitive crime in London.

The men and woman have been arrested on suspicion of a range of offences including conspiracy to burgle, supply of Class A drugs, conspiracy to supply firearms, handling stolen goods and fraud and have been taken to police stations in central and south London where they remain in custody.

The operation is ongoing and searches are continuing at a number of addresses where items seized so far have included drugs and computer tablets.

A rise in acquisitive crime, particularly burglary and theft, in the Bexley area led to the operation by a dedicated team that was established to identify and gather evidence against individuals who had formed criminal networks believed to be responsible for more than 300 offences over an 18-month period.

Prior to today, 31 people had been arrested and charged with a total of 41 offences as part of the two-year investigation. This has resulted in 29 convictions.

South area commander Simon Letchford said: "More than 700 officers from across the Met are out in force to support this operation today, demonstrating our commitment to tackling organised crime in all our neighbourhoods, where ever it occurs in London.

"When we identified a rise in burglaries and other acquisitive crime in the Bexley area we set out to identify those responsible who were creating misery to local people whose homes were being burgled and property stolen."