A call that I made at Sefton’s last Full Council meeting for action to stem rising gun crime in the area has met with a response from Sefton Council Leader Peter Dowd who told the Council’s Cabinet meeting last Thursday, “Following the Councillor’s question at the Council Meeting, I thought it would be useful if the Police and Crime Commissioner could address us on the subject and wider policing concerns”.
Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy attended the meeting flanked by Chief Supt Nikki Holland, Sefton’s Area Commander. She informed the councillors that, although crime, and particularly gun crime, was on a downward trend nationwide, the Liverpool, Knowsley and Sefton Area was in a different category.
“Last year, there were fifteen Gun discharges in Sefton, of which five resulted in injury”. she said. “This year, there have been eighteen of which eleven have involved injury. One of these was a suicide.”
Commissioner Kennedy explained that the agencies concerned with gun crime had been meeting at both strategic and operational level.
I am pleased that my concerns about the Gun situation have been taken seriously. The people of Maghull, for example, are not at all used to this type of violence on our streets and need firm reassurance that there will be appropriate action to prevent recurrence of these gun incidents if at all possible. I am grateful to Cllr. Dowd for inviting the Commissioner.
I would have been even more grateful if I and other Maghull residents had been informed beforehand of her appearance at the meeting so we could have had the opportunity to go and hear what she was saying.
As part of the Lib Dem’s continuing campaign to try to put a stop to gun crime in Sefton we took the fight to the Sefton’s East Parishes Area Committee meeting on 7th February only days after the latest shooting in nearby Netherton (see my 4th February posting). The Maghull Neighbourhood Police Sergeant was present and a couple of hours before the meeting I had also contacted the Neighbourhood’s new Inspector putting down a marker about guns.
Having represented Maghull for 28 years this is a very serious matter to me with 3 shootings in the Town in just the past year. I feel it is vital that councillors make it clear that our communities are simply not prepared to tolerate gun crime in any form.
We realise that our campaign is putting pressure on our hard working Police but if we sit back and do nothing things can only get worse. What we are looking for is clear assurance that Merseyside Police is prioritising gun crime in Sefton and we want to see their and indeed our new Merseyside Police Commissioner’s plans to tackle this community menace.
We await some substantive responses – It’s now two and a half weeks since I raised the matter at Sefton’s last Full Council meeting, there has been another shooting since then (the one in Netherton) but no one from Merseyside Police or indeed the Commissioner’s Office has yet been in touch.
I have lived in the Maghull and Lydiate communities since I was 10 years of age so I know how crime free our area has always been. Yet in the past year we have had 3 shootings, one at the Recycling Centre, one outside Maricourt High School and one in Rufford Avenue. This is unprecedented in Maghull history as far as I know and deeply worrying for the folks who live here.
I have also worked in Bootle since I was 17 and the worrying trend towards gun crime there, which seems to be associated with gang culture, has to be a big concern for both Bootle residents and the many public sector workers who are employed in its mini-Whitehall quarter.
My objective is to ensure that Merseyside’s new Police and Crime Commissioner knows how concerned Sefton residents are to rid our streets of guns. I am looking for a clear strategy to achieve that and am pleased that Sefton Council Leader Peter Dowd has agreed to pursue the matter following my raising it at Sefton’s full Council meeting last Thursday.
It is vital that we try to rid guns from our communities before we end up with someone wanting to set up a branch of the National Rifle Association locally. It is essential that this battle with guns is given the very highest priority in Merseyside.