The police officer charged with keeping Wandsworth and Merton safe has spoken out following a string of violent crimes.

Chief Superintendent and BCU Commander for South West London, Sally Benatar took to social media to address recent incidents that have rocked communities.

"As you may have heard, in the past week, an 18 year-old man was seriously injured in a stabbing on Balham Hill, and four people were injured when a shotgun was discharged on Figges Marsh in Mitcham," she said.

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"My thoughts are with those impacted by these violent incidents and their family and friends.

"Following these distressing events, we decided to implement the use of stop and search powers using Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994."

Section 60 differs from normal stop and search because it enables police officers to stop and search a person without requiring reasonable grounds to suspect that they or a vehicle are carrying weapons or dangerous objects.

It is a temporary power with a distinct time limit, and it is limited to a specific geographical area.

Over the weekend, the S60 was active across Wandsworth, Merton and Lambeth.

Police said that more than 20 stop and searches were conducted in the Battersea and Balham Hill areas following Thursday’s S60, and two people were arrested for drugs offences.

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"When it comes to long-term solutions to violent crime, we encourage the proactive use of stop and search where reasonable grounds exist," Ms Benatar added.

"This proves to be one of our most effective means of taking dangerous weapons off the street.

"Tackling violent crime remains a top priority for the Met, and goes hand-in-hand with our particular BCU priorities of putting victims first and preventing harm.

"We also prioritise effective safeguarding, and our schools officers are working hard to protect and educate our young people in the dangers of carrying knives.

"Knife arches will be in place at schools over the next two weeks, and officers have increased reassurance patrols around the Balham area in light of last Wednesday’s stabbing."

But she said the police can't do it alone.

"Our communities have a vital role to play in tackling violent crime; only by working effectively together with residents and partner agencies can we truly make a positive difference to our young people," she added.

"If you have valuable information that you think we should know, but feel uncomfortable talking to the police, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers instead.

"They do not ask your name and they cannot trace your call (or IP address). Your knowledge could save a life and make London a safer city for us all."