Expansion of specialist unit tackling organised crime in Birmingham
West Midlands Police has doubled the strength of its Birmingham Organised Crime Unit as the force underlines its determination to tackle city gangs .
Twenty officers have been drafted into the specialist taskforce in a move that will enhance its capability to better understand the make-up of gangs, disrupt their activity and strike swiftly to make arrests.
But members of the team will also work with probation, youth workers and communities to divert vulnerable young people away from exploitation by organised criminals, and offer improved life choices.
The expanded team officially launched on 7 May and has already made its presence felt with numerous arrests and continued disruption of people with suspected links to organised criminality.
Superintendent Tom Joyce heads up the Birmingham Organised Crime Unit, said: “Expanding our unit is a significant step and shows our determination to grip those who cause the biggest risk of serious harm.
“Our aim is to work with the city’s communities − to act on information they provide − so we can together make Birmingham a safer place.
“Organised crime goes beyond those linked to ‘turf wars’ and knife or gun crime. We’ll also target those who offend in groups to exploit children and vulnerable people such as County Lines drug gangs and slavery traffickers.
“Our message is clear: alongside our partners we will use all the tools and tactics at our disposal to safeguard our young people from exploitation and respond robustly against anyone seeking to groom children into criminality."
In just the first two weeks officers from the unit have made numerous arrests − for offences including drug dealing, wounding and money laundering − plus seized cash, vehicles, drugs and weapons.
The newly-expanded unit will operate seven days a week − from dawn until late at night on both high-visibility and unmarked patrols − and can call upon other specialist teams in the force, such as firearms or rapid entry units, to assist on planned operations.
Officers will also work with partner agencies, including youth offending teams, children’s services and charities, in a bid to divert vulnerable teenagers away from gang activity.
There are more than 40 Organised Crime Gangs (OCGs) operating in Birmingham − comprising around 400 members − and more classified as Urban Street Gangs (USGs).
Supt Joyce added: “Gang affiliation is far more fluid in its nature than it was 10 or 15 years ago: much of what we see now is driven by drug dealing rather than simple territorial conflicts inspired by the post codes gangs operate in.
“To successfully tackle gang culture requires a partnership approach, including the public sector, charities and the community − it cannot be tackled by police alone.
“Together we need to present young people with opportunities in education and employment as an alternative to guns, gangs and organised crime.
“We aim to support those who want to turn their lives around and desist from criminality − but for those who chose to remain involved in gang crime, people can rest assured that West Midlands Police will deal with them robustly."
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said: “The efficiencies which we have driven in recent years has now made it possible to double the size of the Birmingham Organised Crime Unit which is core to our effort to tackle gangs and violence.
“The new officers in the unit are already taking swift action to make our streets safer and arrest serious criminals.
“This unit’s work to disrupt and put a stop the activity of a number of organised crime groups which are involved in a range of offences such as serious violence, domestic abuse, drugs and child sexual exploitation is crucial to making the West Midlands a safer place
“This unit is a part of the work we are doing to tackle violence in the region we are also investing in schemes to break the cycle of violence.”
Anyone who is worried a friend or family member is being drawn into gang activity can get help and advice from WMP Online.