COMPETING drug gangs using guns and knives to settle disputes are making it “a challenging time” for police in south Sefton but they say they are stepping up patrols and carrying operations to tackle the problem.
The ongoing Operation Target has seen more officers patrolling areas including Bootle, Netherton and Litherland with a number of open land and canal searches being carried out to seize weapons.
The Champion has reported how officers have found machetes, tasers and knives during these searches, and have also used arrest warrants.
Superintendent Graeme Robson said: “We know there are a number of competing crime groups in south Sefton who have access to knives and guns and using violence to settle disputes and protect their illicit trade in drugs.
“Our primary job is to keep the communities safe, and these incidents have presented us with some serious challenges.
“But I believe we have risen to the challenge. People will have got used to seeing officers in their areas responding to those incidents.
“We have ramped up the pressure on those criminals with a number of arrests, warrants, days of action and gang injunctions.
“During warrants, our officers have identified opportunities to help children living at some addresses by referring them to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
“We are determined to ensure young people who are surrounded by criminal activity through no fault of their own do not view a life of criminality as attractive or inevitable.”
He added, however, that in the vast majority of incidents, the victims themselves have not assisted the police in their investigations.
He said: “We cannot tackle this issue alone and police our way out of it. We need everyone affected by violent crime to stand with us and tell us everything they know.
“I appeal directly to those people who care deeply about the victims in these cases, the families and friends of young men who have sustained knife and gunshot wounds, or been the victim of assaults.
“Do you want this life for your son? If your home is being used to store weapons, or a member of your household is involved in organised crime, they could be exposing you, your family or your house to the risk of harm.”