Two terrified children were led down the stairs by police officers after a raid was carried out at their family home.
Merseyside Police executed the raid as part of a series of coordinated warrants across the region at around 7am this morning, Thursday, November 9. The ECHO accompanied police officers dressed in full riot gear who targeted a semi-detached family home in Kensington.
Officers pulled into the quiet cul-de-sac in a Matrix van, before officers jumped out and headed towards the house. A child's bike lay in the front yard, while two officers gained entry to the garden via a side gate revealing children's toys scattered across the floor.
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A woman shouted "who is it" from the upstairs' front bedroom window, before an officer used a battering ram to smash in the front door. When officers gained entry into the house, bewildered neighbours ran back into their homes before watching on from their windows.
A woman inside the house was soon led down the stairs by officers in her pyjamas followed by two terrified children and a man. Merseyside Police confirmed to the ECHO the woman, 37, was arrested on suspicion of drug and firearm offences.
The force also executed warrants at addresses in West Derby, Wavertree, Orrell Park, Aintree and Knowsley. During the warrants 13 men, aged between 16 and 56, and three women, two aged 37 and a third aged 52, were arrested on suspicion of various offences. Merseyside Police confirmed the warrants were linked to large-scale drugs supply and the use of firearms, including a Skorpion machine pistol recovered in March.
Skorpion weapons were used in three murders in Merseyside last year, including the shooting of 26-year-old beautician Elle Edwards, who was hit when gunman Connor Chapman opened fire outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village, Wirral, on Christmas Eve. The firearms, which are Czech-designed, are capable of firing 800 rounds a minute.
Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Ball, who led the operation, said: "Skorpion firearms have been shown to be particularly devastating in our communities, as was seen last year with the murder of three of our community members, so it’s absolutely essential we get these firearms off our streets. The activity today shows and highlights how committed we are around pursuing and actively pursuing those engaged in this level of criminality."
DCI Ball said this year has seen 14 discharges in Merseyside, compared with 49 last year. He said: "In January this year, it was the first calendar month when we had zero discharges since records began. This was then repeated for the months of June and September.
“In 2022 we had more than halved the number of discharges in Merseyside compared to 2012 and we hope that this will be further reduced this year – one firearm discharged on our streets is one too many and sadly last year we saw the pain and suffering of five families who lost their loved ones as result of gun crime."
DCI Ball said Merseyside Police does not know for definite the amount of guns on the streets. However, he said the force "can't do it alone" and urged anyone with information on where firearms are stashed or where they are used to contact police.
He added: "We do have ways to protect people, I understand that it’s daunting for people to pass that information but these types of criminals are exploiting the young people in our community and those that are most vulnerable so it’s essential that we work together to target this and get the guns off our streets."
Last year saw the deplorable shooting of Olivia Pratt-Korbel – a nine-year-old schoolgirl who was in her own home in Dovecot. And DCI Ball told reporters how gangs are exploiting vulnerable and young people to carry out dangerous frontline missions.
He said: "It’s been shown over recent years the level of violence criminals are willing to use on Merseyside and by the nature of using weapons like Skorpions, that are capable of such devastation, that shows what they’re willing to do. It does present a challenge but that’s why we want to work with the community because it’s working together with the community that’s going to combat this effectively. We can’t do it on our own.”
Knowing how children have been killed by firearms in this city, and seeing the terrified faces of two youngsters after the police raided their home, it's clear to see who the real victims of organised crime are in our region.