More than 100 crime gangs are operating in South Yorkshire, with nearly a half involved in dealing drugs and a quarter with links to firearms.
The scale of the problem is unveiled in a report prepared for South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, on the state of crime in South Yorkshire today.
South Yorkshire Police produced the document to highlight the progress made over the last year and the challenges remaining, based on targets set in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.
The report says ‘organised crime groups’ and ‘urban street gangs’ ‘pose a significant risk to both themselves and the public at large’.
“Many are linked to drugs markets and firearms,” the report reveals.
Analysis of the 105 gangs operating in South Yorkshire today shows that 42 per cent are involved in drugs and 27 per cent have links to guns.
Forty per cent of the gangs have at least one member in prison, the report states.
“The make up of various gangs are varied, with Doncaster dealing with numerous groups linked to the travelling community and Sheffield experiencing the more recognised issues of inner city organised crime groups and urban street gangs,” the report reveals.
It says South Yorkshire Police is running operations to break up the gangs and there is work underway to try to divert young people away from lives of crime through schools, but he said in extreme cases, involving criminal families, children are being removed from their homes in a bid to ‘break the cycle’.
“Innovations include the involvement of social care in intervening where children are living in families involved in organised criminality in order to break the cycle of criminality,” says the report.
“This is particularly important as for many families, organised crime group membership spans generations.”
South Yorkshire Police said a recent crackdown on the gangs, codenamed Operation Zeus, was launched to tackle ‘armed criminality and the increase of inferred firearms on the streets of South Yorkshire’.
“Gangs who are linked to firearms are being prioritised for intervention due to the risk that they pose to the public,” says the report.
* See tomorrow’s Star for full analysis of the report