Passengers at three Hillingdon stations yesterday (Friday, August 17) were confronted with numerous uniformed officers and metal detectors due to an anti-knife crime operation.

A special team of Hillingdon MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) officers led by Sergeant Edwin Abe worked with six plain-clothes officers from Project Servator and two British Transport Police officers at Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton and Uxbridge stations.

The operation started at 2pm and finished at around 9pm.

Officers hope it acted as a deterrent to those who may be considering carrying knives in the future.

Sergeant Edwin Abe of Hillingdon MPS

Sergeant Abe said: "There have been a lot of stabbings recently and Hillingdon has been identified as a problematic area that's had an increase in serious violent crime.

"My team works in the background to look at problems like that and find solutions, confronting them before they get bigger. We are planning to do a bigger operation [later in the year] so this is like a trial run."

Between July 16 and August 13, there were 68 incidents of knife crime leading to injury reported in Hillingdon.

Sergeant Abe added: "We all know knife crime is a big problem and it's not one that can be solved just through police intervention. The police need to do their bit along with the government and the public.

"That said, if we can save just one life today, that's enough. We have to start somewhere."

While officers aimed to get as many people through the metal detectors as possible, plain-clothes officers from Project Servator were present to confront anyone attempting to avoid the uniformed police presence.

A metal detector - or knife arch - set up outside Hayes & Harlington station

An officer who cannot be named for operational reasons said: "We are trained to look for behaviours, regardless of any profile the person may fit.

"It involves chatting to people nicely a lot of the time, which is a level of engagement people haven't been used to.

"Public criticism of stop and search from the press and members of the community has meant some officers feel less empowered using it and I do think that could have led to a slight rise in crime."

Project Servator officers, who also work with businesses and members of the public, completed a similar operation with Hillingdon MPS last month which ended in four arrests, although none were knife crime-related.

Early on during the operation yesterday (August 17) there was a dramatic arrest of a man on suspicion of obstructing a drug search and another of a female outside West Drayton station, wanted on recall to prison and arrested on suspicion of possession of a screwdriver.