The Metropolitan Police Service began a series of raids on addresses across London this morning to crack down on domestic, homophobic, transphobic, race and other forms of hate crime.

Operation Athena is being carried out to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which was held on Sunday.

The operation involves targeting “dangerous and prolific” offenders, along with high-visibility patrols and measures to encourage hate crime victims to come forward.

Acting Detective Superintendent Gerry Campbell, who is heading Operation Athena, said:

“Athena is now in its ninth year, and we retain a relentless commitment to tackling all forms of domestic violence, homophobic, transphobic and other forms of hate crime, whilst continually improving our services to victims and potential victims.

“Today’s operation sends out a clear message: violence in any form is unacceptable. We will continue to proactively identify, arrest and seek the prosecution of violent people.

“We now have public protection groups in every London borough, dedicated to proactively investigating a wide range of domestic violence, hate and sexual crimes perpetrated by violent and dangerous offenders.

“We remain concerned that such crimes remain unreported, which we understand can be for a number of different reasons. However, we would like to urge any victims of such crimes to come forward and speak with us.

“We have access to dedicated, specialist care to support you and keep you safe. I want to personally appeal to victims to report these hurtful, sensitive and insidious crimes directly to police or through a third party or non-police reporting site.”

It is not yet clear how many properties have been searched or how many arrests have been made.

Between April 2008 and March 2009, homophobic offences rose by 3.7 per cent in London.