Police unit hails drop in gun crime

Shootings down by 53 per cent as police gangs team scores success.

Shootings in Birmingham have more than halved in the last six months since a specialist West Midlands Police Unit was created to tackle gang activity.

The Birmingham Organised Crime Team was expanded in May as the force dedicated extra resources to proactively targeting people linked to gang crime. Between May and November, officers assigned to the unit made 161 arrests − including 34 men aligned to ‘mapped’ Organised Crime Groups − and seized a stash of guns, imitation firearms, knives and other weapons.

The firearms seizures included an AK47 assault rifle found hidden in a derelict Birmingham pub, a Luger pistol and 35 rounds of ammunition, and sawn-off shotguns. They’ve been sent for forensic testing and will be analysed by experts at the National Ballistics Intelligence Service to see if they’ve been used in crime.

The result has seen a 53 per cent reduction in firearms discharges across Birmingham from May to November this year compared to the same period in 2018, plus a six per cent increase in firearms seizures. The team has also recovered drugs valued at more than £163,000, plus almost £40,000 in cash suspected to be drugs proceeds.

Detective Inspector Simon Graham heads up the team. He said: “The force has made a significant investment in tackling organised crime in Birmingham and the expanded team has made an immediate impact.

“The extra capacity means we’ve got more officers in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles on proactive patrols in hotspot areas on the lookout for individuals linked to gangs or suspect vehicles. We’re arresting and disrupting people linked to gangs, seizing their vehicles, and taking lethal weapons off the streets.

“In the first six months we’ve seen 28 recorded firearms discharges in Birmingham compared to 59 over the same period in 2018 − that’s a great result and huge testament to the work of all the officers in the unit. We’re hoping for more of the same success through 2020.”

As well as carrying out raids and making arrests, the team works with the public sector, charities and the community to divert children and young people away from gangs.

Det Insp Graham added: “We need to show young people that opportunities are out there for them in education and employment as an alternative to guns, gangs and organised crime.

“An existence linked to gangs is not glamorous… it may well lead to serious injury or death. We can help people towards more fulfilling, brighter futures if they are prepared to turn their backs on gangs.

“But for those that refuse to change, people can rest assured we are absolutely committed to tackling gun and organised crime and aim to put offenders behind bars for a very long time.”

Anyone with information on gun crime can contact West Midlands Police in confidence via Live Chat at WMP Online or by calling 101.

Alternatively speak anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111; callers won’t be asked their names and calls cannot be traced.