As part of the Metropolitan Police's ongoing London-wide Operation Hawk, a drugs raid was carried out in New Addington this week. Reporter Andrew Jameson and photographer Grant Melton were invited along to see the police in action...
AT 2:05pm, three police vans pull up on Homestead Way having calmly driven through New Addington.
By 2:07pm, 17 police officers are in a property having battered their way through the suspects' front door and detained four men suspected of drugs offences.
It's quite a thing, not just to watch the speed at which the operation is carried out but at how much careful planning has gone into its execution.
The Advertiser arrived just an hour before this, but there have been months of work put into this blink-and-you'll miss it police blitz.
Police received intelligence in the summer that the address maybe being used to push drugs.
Another couple of reports and the police sent neighbourhood officers to give the place a "reccie". Confirming there may have been an issue, police decided to act and obtain a warrant from the magistrates' court under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
This can take about around a month and by the time this one was it is obtained and enough officers are booked to carry out the job, it was Wednesday (February 4).
The briefing takes place at Addington Police Station, in Addington Village Road, which is now a base for most of the police in the south of the borough and non-regular contact point for the public.
New Addington Sergeant Glenn Williams is the lead for the raid. He reminds the 17 officers, three special constables and one community support officer on the job "to take nice deep breaths because the adrenalin will be going".
He later tells the Advertiser: "What I am really trying to ensure is we keep that balance, because if anyone is doing the job then you have that adrenalin running but then we have a duty of care to those people we have detained."
Officers are reminded it is their own individual decision as to whether they handcuff the suspects, because of dangers over use of force.
Detailed intelligence is shown of the suspects and then different officers are told their duties for the raid. A PC on the team tells us the police would be carrying out these raids all the time if the public were willing to provide more information about criminality.
When we arrive at Homestead Way, we exit the vans as soon as the foot is off the pedal, lining up behind bushes out of the line of sight. Some officers were dropped off earlier in various locations in the roads surrounding to make sure the exits to the suspects' property are covered – a hazard of New Addington's rat-run layout.
The rest of us scuttle along behind the bushes before officers get out the battering ram to break the door down in seconds.
One of the suspects – hearing noise – swings the upstairs window open and shouts but is detained within seconds along with three other men in the house. Drugs are found in the property almost immediately, with a full search taking place afterwards.
The four men, aged between 18 and 23, were still in custody at a south London police station.
Sgt Williams explained the importance of these raids: "It comes down to the whole criminality element. There is a link to drug use and other types of crime and the impact on the community can be huge. We rely on people ringing Crimestoppers and we would urge people to do so."
To ring Crimestoppers anonymously You can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.