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Update re: Operation Condor

27 February 2012

One of the Metropolitan Police Service’s biggest policing operations of the year so far was launched on Friday 24 February to tackle unlicensed activity around the capital.
Operation Condor targets all 32 London boroughs as part of a massive crack-down on licensing issues affecting all our communities and so far has led to 4,896 premises visited, 658 licensing breaches being identified and 420 people being arrested.
The operation is a co-ordinated 48 hour operation across London to combat those who flout licensing rules including shops, pubs, clubs, unlicensed mini cabs and others.
Police are on the look out for drug taking and other illegal activity inside pubs and checking that alcohol is sold and consumed in line with licensing laws. In shops and supermarkets, they are taking action against people selling alcohol, cigarettes and knives to children and those who have not checked correctly checked the history of second hand goods for sale. Driving licence fraud and taxi touts are also being targeted.
Commander Mak Chishty, leading the operation, said: “Licensing laws are there for good reason as they help protect us from danger. Breaking them is not acceptable. Operation Condor is about keeping our communities safe from harm. In our shops and supermarkets this means people do not sell knives, harmful substances or alcohol to young people; in our pubs and clubs it means that alcohol is sold and consumed in a responsible way, on our roads it means that vehicles, such as taxis are properly¬† licensed and safe.
“This is why so many of my officers were out over the weekend stopping cars at transport hotspots to check for correct documentation, visiting newsagents, off-licences, supermarkets and betting shops to ensure and test licensing laws are being followed correctly. We are also targeting pubs and clubs to make sure they are strictly applying their permits and to ensure any informal sales of goods or drugs on their premises are dealt with appropriately.
“Licensing impacts upon everyday community life. The results of unlicensed activity on our streets can find the form of underage drinkers acting unsociably close to where we live, unlicensed mini-cabs endangering passengers by making uninsured journeys and also shops who potentially encourage the circulation of stolen items by not correctly checking the history of second hand goods offered for sale.
“These are just some small examples of why it is vital our officers continue to work with our partners to enforce licensing laws in all walks of life and in doing so protect people who live, work or travel in London safe from harm.
“Transport for London, local authorities and trading standards are some of the partners involved in the combined effort to increase public safety.”
During the course of the operation over 3,000 officers from boroughs and specialist units will be working on Op Condor, using a range of tactics to bring unlicensed activity to account.
Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “Most criminal networks profit from illegal licensing, whether it’s selling alcohol illegally or giving youngsters access to harmful weapons. Cracking down on this activity means we’ll see a knock on effect of a drop in robberies, violence and anti social behaviour, which is good news for Londoners. I’d like to thank the 3,000 police officers enforcing this operation and I’d like to advise criminals across the capital to keep looking over their shoulders as we’re watching.”

Unlicensed cab driver jailed for sexual assaults

24 February 2012

An unlicensed cab driver has been sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court today (Friday 24 February) following sexual assaults on two women in Kingston and Chelsea in 2010.

Amir Bhatti, 33 (19/5/78), of Cranford Lane, Hounslow pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one  count of theft in October 2011.

He was sentenced to four years’ imprisonemnet for public protection.

Detective Constable Serena D’Adamo of Sapphire said:“Bhatti used his job as an unlicensed cab driver to target vulnerable woman and get them into his car so he could carry out the assaults. This case should serve as a reminder to women to take sensible precautions when planning a night out and ensure they have a safe way of getting home.

“If anyone thinks they have been a victim of sexual assault I would urge them to report it to police; they can be assured that they will be treated sensitively by specially trained Sapphire officers.”

An allegation of sexual assault was made to police on 11 November 2010 by an 18-year-old student who had been at a nightclub in Kingston in the early hours of that day.

She had become separated from her friends and left the venue, getting into the front passenger seat of a cab now known to be driven by Bhatti. During the journey she became aware that he was driving in the opposite direction to where she lived, and when the car stopped at traffic lights he touched her upper leg. She managed to get out of the car and run into a nearby hotel to get away from him.

A second incident was reported three days later on 14 November when a woman was assaulted after leaving the Chelsea area in a cab and the two offences were linked.

The victim, 31, left a nightclub on the Kings Road after becoming ill, she then recalled being in the rear of a parked car with a man on top of her, assaulting her. The victim claimed she needed to be sick and got out of the car before running to safety.

Both women also had money stolen from their bank accounts via a cashpoint machine on the nights they were assaulted.

Detectives from Sapphire identified Amir Bhatti as a suspect from a partial registration number of the car used in the offences. CCTV footage from the cashpoints used by the victims showed him standing with them when they made the withdrawls, and a record of him storing one of the victim’s pin numbers in his mobile phone was retrieved.

Records from the phone were also able to pin point him as being at the locations relevant to the assaults at the time that they happened.

Bhatti was arrested on 29 November 2010 and subsequently charged. Due to the overwhelming evidence against him he entered a guilty plea prior to the start of the trial

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