Town plagued by gang violence to get new police team

A Merseyside town recently plagued by organised crime is to have a new dedicated policing team.

The team of 22 officers will be tasked with tackling crime in Kirkby, which became the focus of a gang war at the beginning of 2020, leading to a number of shootings.

Superintendent Jenny Wilson told a meeting of Knowsley Council on Wednesday evening that the new officers had been made available thanks to Operation Uplift, Merseyside Police’s recruitment drive that aims to see 500 new officers join the force this year.

Supt Wilson said: “In terms of Operation Uplift, we have invested as a force in the creation of a Kirkby community team.”

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The new team will be led by an inspector and include three sergeants and 18 constables, she added.

Over the past 12 months, Kirkby was the focus of a war between rival drugs gangs that saw multiple shootings across the town.

These included an incident in November in which two men were injured in a shooting at the Market Tavern pub in the town centre as well as a number of shootings in the Tower Hill area.

Supt Wilson told councillors last night: “At the beginning of the year we had a significant dispute between two organised crime groups in the Kirkby locale which resulted in firearms discharges.”

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She went on to say that one of the gangs had since been “dismantled” and the force was working to identify people “on the periphery” of the gangs that might now move in to take their place.

However, the threat from organised crime and the risk of children being exploited by drugs gangs remained “significant”, she added.

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