History of Trident

Forensics Officers examining a gun at a crime scene.

The Trident Gang Crime Command was launched on the 8 February last year (2012). Historically Trident focused primarily on gun crime and homicide within the black community. The launch last year saw Trident re-focus its efforts through a new command and it now leads the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) response to tackling gang-related crime and associated violence, with additional responsibility for the prevention and investigation of all shootings in London, regardless of the victim's background.

The unit that was to become Trident emerged following community pressure and was first established as an operation in March 1998 in response to a series of shootings and murders in Lambeth and Brent. Working directly with the police a community lay advisory group was formed. Drug-related violence, primarily shootings were disproportionately affecting black communities, where both the perpetrator and often the victims were Black. These incidents were made harder to investigate because of the unwillingness of witnesses to come forward through fear of reprisals from the criminals involved and because of a lack of trust and confidence in the police.

Wider support for a dedicated unit to tackle gun crime grew from June 1998 following the separate murders of two black women; Avril Johnson in Brixton and Michelle Carby in Stratford. Following the Lawrence Inquiry 1999, agreement was reached for the establishment of a dedicated operational command unit and in June 2000 the Operation Trident OCU was launched, working closely with the already established Operation Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG).

In 2001 the Operation Trident Shootings Teams were formed to investigate non-fatal shootings where both suspects and victims were from black communities. In 2004, the MPA Gun Crime Scrutiny report recommended the same specialist approach be applied to all non-fatal shootings. This established Op Trafalgar shootings team and expansion of other teams in Op Trident. In 2008, the MPS formally established Trident as a brand new command unit; integrating the Trafalgar teams and the prefix “Operation” was dropped.

Over the years the nature of shootings in London and Trident has changed. Ten years ago, those responsible for shootings were mainly organised criminals from Jamaica, in recent years the victims and perpetrators of shootings are from all backgrounds. There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of younger males involved in shootings; about two thirds of shooting victims are aged under 24 years old. Motivations for offending have also changed and approximately 50% of shootings involve individuals connected to gangs.

In February 2012, the MPS launched the new Trident Gang Crime Command. This expanded the remit of Trident from its previous focus on shootings to proactively tackling wider gang crime. Trident now has additional resources, including Operation Connect, to develop a coordinated police response to gang crime, whilst working with partners to divert young people away from gangs.