The Metropolitan Police has set up a special anti-gang unit targeting scores of suspected gang members in a London-wide crackdown.

The Trident Gang Crime Command has been set up as an offshoot to Operation Trident, the unit established a decade ago to beat gun crime in the black community.

Hundreds of officers in the new unit will target suspected gang members wanted for assault, robbery and dealing drugs.

Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "This is a step-change in how we tackle gang crime in London.

"It will allow us to identify and pursue the most harmful gangs and gang members. It will help us identify young people on the periphery of gangs and work with partners to divert them away.

"Although we are now nearly doubling the number of officers dedicated to tackling gang crime, the police cannot do this alone. It is vital we work with the public, local authorities, charities and other agencies to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place."

Gang crime in London has been blamed for 22% of serious violence crimes, 17% of robbery, 50% of shootings and 14% of rapes.

Hogan-Howe added: "There are still too many young people who are or could get involved in gangs.

"We want to prevent young people getting involved in gang offending so we and other agencies are offering ways out to support young people. However, those who refuse our offer of help will be pursued and brought to justice.

DCS Stuart Cundy, operational commander for Trident Gang Crime Command added: "Since its launch in 2000 Trident has developed expertise in combating shootings in London and has become more focused on tackling gangs across London."