New police chief: We’ll throw the book at Sheffield’s armed criminals

26 July 2016...Interin Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson. Picture Scott Merrylees
26 July 2016...Interin Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson. Picture Scott Merrylees
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The new man in charge of South Yorkshire Police today vowed to ‘throw the book’ at thugs involved in gun crime after a spate of Sheffield shootings.

New Chief Constable Stephen Watson said there had been an increase in gun crime in recent weeks in Sheffield.

He told The Star: “I’m absolutely determined that wherever guns exist, we will take them off the streets.

“These are the most serious of offences and believe me, we will throw the book at anybody engaged with any kind of this violence and so will the courts.”

His pledge comes after a teenager was shot in Parson Cross and two men on motorbikes shot at a group of people on the street in Norfolk Park, both on Friday night.

Mr Watson said a combination of specialist operations targeting armed criminals and a renewed focus on neighbourhood policing will be part of the efforts to bring those involved in justice.

A combination of specialist operations targeting armed criminals and a renewed focus on neighbourhood policing will be part of the efforts to bring those involved in justice.

The new chief constable said: “Our response involves specialised and very targeted operations to ensure we do the best we can to bring people to justice. I’m concerned there has been an increase in recent weeks in relation to Sheffield in particular.”

Mr Watson is acting on an interim basis as chief constable until November when he will take the job on a permanent basis after the contract of his suspended predecessor David Crompton ends.

He said police were yet to establish the precise reasons why there has been an increase in gun crime in the city in recent weeks.

“It often stems from very petty feuds,” he said.

“Sometimes people will take to firearms for no better reason than there has been some minor fallout over a girl or over somebody being disrespectful to another person.

“You have a group of people who have got themselves engaged in criminality and people who have a very inadequate sense of perspective who are putting themselves but more importantly others in jeopardy.”

His comments follow a series of shootings across the city.

On Friday night, a 19-year-old was shot on Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross.

And on the same night two men on a motorbike fired ‘three or four shots’ towards a group of people on Samuel Close, Norfolk Park.

Nobody was injured but a porch window was damaged.

Police believe the attack may have been linked to a shooting in Arbourthorne.

On July 15, shots were fired in the Burncross Road area of Chapeltown.

A recent court case heard how one man who was shot in the leg in a car chase along Southey Green Road and Penistone Road in January had been involved in three shooting incidents this month.

In June, a man was shot in his home on Hartley Brook Road, Shiregreen, while in the early hours of July 7, shots were fired into a house on Hastilar Road South, Woodthorpe – one week after a nearby pub was shot at on Richmond Road.