Gun Crime in Sefton

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/two-men-liverpool-magistrates-court-8980594

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The Liverpool Echo has the story.

Sadly, this is a regular theme of mine and I only wish it were not. What does it take to get guns off our streets. Nice to see the Police making some inroads here but my feeling is that this is a deep rooted problem where they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Liverpool Echo – DAYLIGHT SHOOTING IN BOOTLE

Tom Duffy on the Echo web site is reporting that there has been yet another shooting in Sefton today – this time in Litherland.

The Echo goes on to report the views of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Keaton “Our investigation is still at a very early stage, although we currently believe that the victim was targeted. “Patrols have been stepped up in the local area and I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure the local community that a thorough investigation is already underway to identify those people responsible and to bring them to justice.”

I know some may think I am boring them by continually raising my concerns about guns on our local streets but frankly it must only be a question of time before we hear of an innocent person being shot.

If only Merseyside Police and our Police and Crime Commissioner would give us some confidence that they are effectively addressing the menace of guns in our Merseyside communities.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy visits Southport

My thanks to Cllr. Marianne Welsh for this report – my comments are in italics.

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

The event, held at the Atkinson (Previously known as Southport Arts Centre before the recent refurbishment), was not well attended – 6 members of the public, one policeman and 4 Southport councillors. It’s purpose seemed to be to help Jane Kennedy to engage with Southport residents but with so few attending………………………

She introduced herself and in doing so acknowledged that Police Commissioners had many doubters, including the Police, when they first were elected. Frankly, I remain a doubter as for the life of me I can’t see what they really add to effective accountable Policing.

Marianne says Jane referred to the huge Police commitment to help keep safe a NATO type summit to be held soon in Wales and the effect that it and sending Merseyside Police officers over to Northern Ireland for the ‘Marching Season’ will have on the local Merseyside Force. Her tone indicated this was something giving her cause for concern.

Marianne noted that in trying to explain how Police share information, via IT, across differing forces Jane seemed somewhat lost by the IT issues. Like many of us I assume but the public sector often falls down on grand plans because the IT is not as capable as it was promised to be.

When Marianne asked Jane (a former Liverpool Labour MP) what challenges she had come across in her new role she was given an example about Jane going to Marian Square (Netherton – Bootle Constituency), describing the deprivation around the shops and the local talk on the streets about drug dealing. Jane said she had engaged with various partners (an oft used public sector phase that could mean any or many other agencies) but that none were mentioned nor what plans had been drawn up to find solutions for that community.

Out in Maghull I have recently been pushing Jane Kennedy for assurances about the future of the Town’s Police Station but frankly I only got a vague response back after a long wait and having needed to send a reminder. I do worry that her office does not respond to letters promptly despite it costing us all significant amounts of money to run. Sorry Jane I remain to be convinced that you and indeed all the other Police Commissioners are making a difference.

Shootings in Sefton for example – Is our Police Commissioner making a difference?

Two more shootings in Bootle this week mean that Sefton’s gun crime problem is still sadly very much alive and well but who is doing much/anything decisive about it?

Obviously we look to two major figures on Merseyside to lead the battle against violent crime – The Police Commissioner and the Chief Constable – but what game changing moves are they making?

I can’t really judge what the Chief Constable is doing but I can look at what the Police Commissioner is doing since she was elected 5 months ago. At face value not a huge amount can be the only conclusion as she has seemingly only made 6 decisions since being elected! Just look at my colleague Iain Brodie-Brown’s Birkdale Focus Blog for all the relevant stats about what Police Commissioners across England are doing.

http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.fr/2013/05/so-what-does-our-police-commissioner-do.html

In the East Parishes part of Sefton we had a ‘mad March’ in 2013 when shootings and fire bombings were happening almost daily! Things have calmed down considerably now and yes I did thank our Police Commissioner for attending a public meeting in Lydiate in March when things were at their worst. But what is Jane Kennedy doing to try to make that big difference to gun crime? If we are simply seeing a lull in shootings in say Maghull, because of a significant Police presence, but that shootings continue to be a problem in Bootle, what has been gained?

I think it is time for our Police Commissioner and indeed the Chief Constable to make some game changing decisions and make us all feel a little more confident that the war on guns is being taken to the streets.

Sefton is not America; we hate guns, we don’t measure our social status by how many we have at home.

Gun crime in Sefton – Let’s look at some facts and some opinions

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?

Answer:-

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.