Exclusive: Gangs Stash Guns For More Riots

Tom Parmenter, Sky News correspondent

Sky News can reveal how rioting gang members have stored away firearms ready for further disorder after the unrest in England last month.

Our exclusive investigation allowed Metropolitan Police detectives to seize a stash of five guns. The weapons were bundled up in a bin store in Brockley, southeast London.

Sky sources said they were concealed by gangs in anticipation of further clashes with officers.

The information came to us from an anonymous individual who felt they could not deal directly with the police.

But the person did have genuine concerns about what might happen if the gangs were given another opportunity to use the weapons.

Once we were told of the existence of this haul, we alerted detectives at the Metropolitan Police.

The officers said they were happy to work with Sky to get the guns off the streets and stressed the need for the location details to be passed to them at the earliest opportunity.

Their priority, and our own, was to recover the firearms as quickly as possible in case they were either moved or even used in a shooting.

The police agreed to allow us to film their operation to recover the guns once we had the location details.

Last Friday, Sky News was told we would receive a text message with the details - and at 3.26pm it arrived from a mobile number that we did not recognise.

It read: "Guns in yellow and orange jd bag at st peters court wickham road brockley london se4, open the bin area at entrance, on left hand side, this is a black metal door, you will find in bin the guns within the bag, describe, the bin area has st peters court written above in big writing on sign, remember left hand side bin, st peters court are a small block of flats."

The message was sent four times in quick succession. We do not know who sent it.

Within moments of the text messages arriving, we got back in touch with the Met Police detectives, who had a team of officers on standby to conduct the search.

Within an hour and a half, more than 30 officers were swarming around the flats in Brockley.

They had soon dragged the bin from behind the black door specified in the message. Moments later an officer found the orange and yellow bag.

Forensics officers were then brought in to record the find. Armed police officers were the next to arrive. They had the experience and expertise to examine the guns and make them safe.

The guns were wrapped in three plastic bags. The green inner bag contained five weapons which were carefully removed. Among them were two flare guns, two old pistols and one revolver.

Detective Chief Inspector Theresa Breen told Sky News: "This is a hugely successful operation not just for the Metropolitan Police but for the community at large.

"A member of the community has felt confident enough to use Sky News to come to us with information that there were weapons somewhere within this area.

"I think that shows the community still has confidence in the police."

She added: "We will identify whether those weapons have been used in any crimes. If they have we will use that information to go out and identify those offenders, arrest those offenders and put them before the courts."

In all likelihood, the text message was sent from a pay-as-you-go mobile. Whoever sent it took a risk, but they also made their community that bit safer.