Merseyside Police rated outstanding in tackling serious organised crime

Merseyside Police has again been graded as ‘outstanding’ for its approach to tackling serious organised crime (SOC) by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Service (HMICFRS).

Nov 10, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy

The force has been graded for its approach to SOC six times by HMICFRS since the first inspection back in 2016 and each time has been rated as outstanding.

For the first time this year, the HMICFRS report focuses on the North West region as a whole, with individual gradings for the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (outstanding), Greater Manchester Police (good), Cheshire Constabulary (adequate), Lancashire Constabulary (good), North Wales Police ( inadequate) and Cumbria Constabulary (requires improvement), in addition to Merseyside Police.

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said officers and staff were fully aware of the “devastating impact” SOC, involving gun and drug offences, can have on families and communities.

“That is why Merseyside Police is relentless in its approach to tackling serious organised crime,” she said.

HMICFRS found the force has effective governance and leadership to monitor SOC performance and makes effective use of analysis to understand and prioritise threats, with well-established partnership structures.

“The force has identified the criminal use of firearms as a priority. It demonstrates strong leadership in tackling this threat and brings learning from national and regional forums back into the force,” said the inspectorate, which also praised how the force effectively targets groups involved in illicit drug supply.

Ms Kennedy, said: “Last year five families in Merseyside were plunged into the depths of despair and grief after offenders involved in serious organised crime killed members of their families with firearms on the streets of Merseyside.

“Two of the individuals, Thomas Cashman and Connor Chapman, who were responsible for the murders of Olivia Pratt-Korbel and Elle Edwards, have been tried at court and are now serving 42 and 48 years respectively.

“Those sentences will have brought the families some sense of justice, but sadly they too are serving their own life sentences and nothing will take  away the pain they have suffered and are still suffering.

“The murders last year showed why we are committed to a relentless approach to tackling serious organised crime.

“We know that despite strong enforcement and prevention activity, which has resulted in the severe disruption of organised crime gangs, there are still a minority of individuals who are prepared to use firearms on our streets and bring misery to our communities through the wholesale distribution of Class A and B drugs.

“These people are toxic in our communities and we will do everything we can to take them off the streets so the majority of people in our communities can enjoy their local facilities and spaces safely and without fear.”

The chief constable added: “Our officers and staff are fully aware of the devastating impact SOC, involving gun and drug offences, can have on families and communities and that is why Merseyside Police is relentless in its approach to tackling serious organised crime.

“Since April 1 to November 8 this year we have seen firearms discharges on Merseyside fall by 64.5 per cent, down to 11 from 31 for the same period the previous year.

“And the outstanding grade given to the force for the work it undertakes to tackle serious and organised crime is testimony to the work being done by people across the force every day and I am exceptionally proud of what they achieve every day.

“We know that enforcement activity alone won’t solve the problem and working with our partners we are educating our young people about the dangers and consequences of becoming involved in serious organised crime.”

Project Medusa, which is the Merseyside Police response to County Lines, works with more than 60 partners (including Everton in the Community; Liverpool Foundation; Catch 22; Cells Project and Sports Traider), to provide safeguarding, support and interventions for vulnerable young people and adults, who have been exploited by County Lines gangs, or are vulnerable to exploitation.

Since the April 1, 2019, the force’s County Lines team, working with partners, has safeguarded 1,451 children and vulnerable adults.

Operation Stonehaven is also engaged in preventing people from being exploited through a number of educational programmes, including the trainee detective programme run in conjunction with EITC, and the engagement of young people through drama with the Terriers and Eve’s Story.”

“The report recognises that the force effectively uses analysis to understand and prioritise threats from organised criminals. And cites that the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) is pivotal in “directing the force’s resources in the fight against organised crime,” said Ms Kennedy.

“The report also refers to the ‘well established’ partnership working carried out by the force, with local authorities, National Crime Agency and North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (which has also been graded as ‘outstanding’ for its work on SOC) for both enforcement and prevention.”

Merseyside police and crime commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “I welcome this very positive report by HMICFRS, recognising the outstanding approach Merseyside Police is taking to tackling serious organised crime.

“Serious and organised crime groups spread fear and intimidation within the communities they operate, bringing misery to the lives of innocent people and often using vulnerable young people to do their dirty work.

“Through initiatives like Op Evolve, Project Medusa and Operation Stonehaven, Merseyside Police is relentless in identifying, disrupting, and bringing offenders to justice, whilst supporting and safeguarding those most at risk of harm and exploitation. This is supported on a regional level by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and I’m pleased they too have been graded as outstanding in this work.

“This report, coupled with a recent reduction in firearms discharges, is testament to the commitment, determination, and hard work of Merseyside Police officers, PCSOs and staff to keep our communities safe and my thanks go to them for everything they do, day in day out.

“Prevention is critical to this work, and I am pleased inspectors recognised the strength of Merseyside’s Police partnerships and its determined efforts, supported by our Violence Reduction Partnership, to get upstream and stop vulnerable young people getting drawn into a life of crime. This is vital if we are to continue to see serious violence reduce.”

She added: “I am determined to do everything I can to support the chief constable and her workforce as they continue to pursue those organised crime groups, prevent vulnerable young people from getting drawn into crime and make all our communities safer and stronger.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jo Edwards, said: “As our lead force, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit works closely with Merseyside Police, as it does with each of our regional forces, to support and lead activity to protect our communities.

“Today’s report reflects the strength of the coordination and partnership between our regional forces and stakeholders to understand and tackle the threat from serious and organised crime.

“The horrific events seen in Merseyside during 2022 are unfortunately examples of the significant harm that those involved in serious and organised crime can have on communities, incidents which will have lifelong effects on families and communities.

“The collective strength and drive of our approach to SOC is a demonstration of our continued resolve to relentlessly disrupt those individuals and groups involved.

“The report highlights the level of threat that emanates from within the region, the grading of outstanding reflects our collaborative ability to understand and tackle those who seeks to cause such harm through criminal acts.”

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