Yesterday and last Friday I posted about the 4 latest shooting incidents in Sefton, but how bad is gun crime in the Borough? A Freedom of Information request to Merseyside Police has released the following statistics. Hold on to your hat they are not pleasant reading!
How many gun discharges have there been in Sefton since January 2010?
Answer:- 39 + 3 on Thursday 14th March and another one on 17th March = 43!
2010 – 5, 2011 – 13, 2012 – 17, 2013 – 4 but add another 4 to that since I made the FOI request so it is 8 and we are only half way thorough March!
Which communities have the gun discharges been in?
Bootle – 23 + 1 on Thursday 14th March = 24
Netherton – 4
Litherland – 4
Maghull – 4 + 2 on Thursday 14th March & 1 on 17th March = 7
Southport – 2
Crosby – 2
Aintree – 1
Bootle is clearly and by a long way the Sefton community with the biggest gun crime problem and if you add together the Bootle, Netherton and Litherland figures plus 1 of the Crosby shootings above you end up with 33 gun discharges in the Bootle Parliamentary Constituency.
But clearly the problem is spreading. Take a community like Maghull; it is leafy commuter land with historically low crime levels. However, it has always suffered from being the victim of travelling criminals so far as burglary in particular is concerned. The Merseyside Police Neighbourhood Unit of Maghull covers Lydiate, Aintree Village, Melling and Sefton & Lunt Villages as well as Maghull. Virtually out of nowhere this area of Sefton, which is known as the East Parishes, with vast parts of it being semi or completely rural, has seen an exposition of gun crime with 7 shootings in the past 13 months.
Possible causes that have been put to me by concerned residents are:-
• The East Parishes are in effect surrounded on 3 sides by communities/Policing Units with much higher crime rates i.e. Bootle, North Liverpool and Kirkby.
• The character of the East Parishes has been changing with some of its predominately private housing stock now being privately rented due to difficulties selling during the economic downturn and the rise in investment properties. This, some fear, leads to a more transient population that can in some cases have less of a commitment to the East Parishes communities. Some residents seemingly link a small minority of privately rented properties to crime.
• This part of Sefton has extremely low levels of social housing. However, some residents point to concerns about social housing, at times, being allocated to problem families from elsewhere who bring criminal and anti-social problems with them.
• From an education perspective the East Parishes has always had high quality, high achieving schools although many of the youngsters attending those schools do come from a far wider area due to educational attainment problems in places like Kirkby, North Liverpool and Bootle. This, at face value positive angle, is pointed to at times as being a problem but such has been the case (although growing as a proportion) since I was at school in Maghull in the late 60’s and 70’s.
• There has always been local concern, acknowledged to me as being an issue by previous Police Inspectors with responsibility for the area, that those who have made money from crime have been attracted to live in the East Parishes because of its good quality housing stock, parks and gardens, schools and its semi rural nature.
My third question was to ask for a list of the roads in which the gun discharges took place and you can imagine it’s a long list but here goes:-
Year Street Area
2013 Marian Square Netherton
2013 Rufford Avenue Maghull
2013 Daley Road Litherland
2013 Litherland Road Bootle
2012 Monfa Road Bootle
2012 Hall Lane Maghull
2012 Cullen Avenue Bootle
2012 Unknown / Not recorded Bootle
2012 Akenside Street Bootle
2012 Stanley Road Bootle
2012 Wadham Road Bootle
2012 Partington Avenue Bootle
2012 Silcocks Field Bootle
2012 Harrops Croft Netherton
2012 Pembroke Road Bootle
2012 Abbotsford Road Crosby
2012 Shakespeare Street Southport
2012 Orrell Lane Bootle
2012 Rimrose Road Bootle
2012 Sefton Lane Maghull
2012 Hawthorne Road Bootle
2011 Ford Close Bootle
2011 Bedford Road Bootle
2011 Park Crescent Southport
2011 Wango Lane Aintree
2011 Amos Avenue Litherland
2011 Violet Road Litherland
2011 Bedford Road Bootle
2011 Croxteth Avenue Litherland
2011 Stanley Road Bootle
2011 Glover Place Bootle
2011 Ford Close Bootle
2011 Shelley Street Bootle
2011 Wakefield Road Netherton
2010 Monfa Road Bootle
2010 Warton Street Bootle
2010 Crosby Road North Crosby
2010 Harrops Croft Netherton
2010 Glendower Road Bootle
The 5 most recent shootings do not appear on the above list as they happened after it was produced for me. For completeness they are:-
2013 Parkbourn – Maghull
2013 Fernbank – Maghull
2013 Moorland Road – Maghull
2013 Timon Avenue – Bootle
2013 Fernbank (2nd shooting) – Maghull
My final question asked for the ages of those involved in the various shootings but Merseyside Police have not really been able to supply me with much information here. I asked for it because you get the impression that gun crime these days is something very much associated with those say under the age of 30, but evidence of this is clearly sketchy.
So there you have it; my attempt as a local resident (of 44 years) and councillor (for 28 years) to try to get behind the headlines of Sefton’s gun crime problems that are now a big headache for Jane Kennedy our new Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner and her Merseyside Police Force.
And one final thought; why is it the case that in years gone by disputes between those involved in criminal activity would normally be settled without the use of guns yet more recently such disputes are now more often settled with guns? Could the greater availability of guns together with a greater willingness to use them be the significant factors here?
The bottom line is that we want to stop gun crime in Sefton because the very last thing we want to see is another tragic Rhys Jones type death.