Specialist police unit vows to keep pressure on gangs
Coventry Police’s specialist organised crime unit has vowed to keep pressure on gangs in 2020 following a year that saw the team make several notable arrests and seize a stash of deadly weapons.
The team works alongside police intelligence specialists to build-up a detailed picture on the make-up of Organised Crime Gangs (OCGs) operating in the city – and planning strikes on those linked to violent, gun and drug crime.
Warrants executed last year resulted in the recovery of three handguns – including one found with a loaded ammo magazine and silencer – plus shotguns, imitation firearms and drugs valued at hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Whoberley man Allistair McFadyen was jailed for five years in September after admitting possessing the Glock pistol, while 25-year-old Joshua Bolton from Walsgrave is now behind bars on remand having been charged with firearms possession.
And during the last 12 months the team has moved more than a dozen men and boys linked to gangs out of the city in a tactic designed to diffuse gang tensions.
A total of 15 young people have been given emergency accommodation away from Coventry – with three removed from the UK – for their own safety and to prevent violent reprisals.
Coventry Police Chief Inspector Paul Minor, said: “The gangs unit has scored some notable successes in 2019 – from increasing our intelligence on who’s linked to gangs, planning and executing warrants, and securing out-of-city placements.
“We’re working with partner agencies to support those who want to turn their lives around – but for those who chose to remain involved in gang crime we will do whatever it takes to disrupt their criminal activity and protect the public.
“That’s also included terminating gang members’ housing contracts and stopping fraudulent benefit claims that we’ve identified – so hitting them financially and making their lives more difficult.
“Our message to anyone associated with gangs in Coventry is that we’ll be re-doubling our efforts in 2020 – and to expect a loud knock on the door from our gangs team.”
The last weekend of 2019 saw two men arrested over a shotgun discharge in the Wood End area of Coventry that injured a 23-year-old man and 16-year-old lad.
Men aged 19 and 22 were swiftly arrested in connection with the shooting and questioned on suspicion of attempted murder; they were bailed until later in January to give detectives more time to conduct enquiries.
Chief Insp Minor accepted such incidents illustrated there was more work to do in communities to steer young men away from violent crime.
He added: “We’re involved in mentoring schemes and programmes like ‘Stay Safe’ and ‘It’s My Life’ which are designed to steer children away from crime. We also run Schools Panels in Coventry where police and schools come together to discuss issues and share information on vulnerable children.
“But tackling the root cause of violent crime is everyone’s responsibility, not just the police: we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need parents to speak to their children – they should know where they are and who they are mixing with – and challenge them if they have suspicions over their behaviour.”
Anyone who suspects someone is linked to gang crime – or has access to firearms – is urged to contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat at WMP online or calling 101. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.