The Metropolitan Police Force has presented to the world their latest project in the fight against the knife crime epidemic.
Rather than employing a zero tolerance policy and stiffer sentences, the Met has decided that transforming and customising a police riot van, or “pimping” it, as they apparently say “in the hood”, is the best way to stop inner-city youth casually stabbing each other to death.
The Met has joined forces with MTV and music company EMI to “pimp” one of their R-reg Mercedes riot vans. The van will feature on MTV’s Pimp My Ride series, presented by DJ Tim Westwood, on 30 November.
The van’s cage and blue lights have been stripped and the van now has thousands of pounds worth of recording equipment, a film editing suite and even a basketball hoop has been added. The van’s body has been festooned with graffiti like images of hip-hop culture and hoodies.
The police have given the van to London based charity XLP and it will tour schools and youth centres in seven London boroughs: Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich and Islington.
On the XLP website, the group gives its mission statement as aiming to “serve urban communities by supporting young people in ethical, spiritual and relational areas so they can make wise lifestyle choices and be encouraged.
“XLP is a faith-based charity and whilst having a Christian ethos it is inclusive of all people and embraces diversity.” The Islington operations superintendent who came up with this bright idea, John Sutherland, believed the pimped van was the perfect vehicle to tackle knife crime:
“I’d like to think this will be something we can do differently. It’s refreshing to be able to try and make a difference.”