Fightback against organised crime gangs must continue, says South Yorkshire police boss
South Yorkshire’s police boss is keen for officers to continue tackling crime gangs responsible for many shootings and stabbings.
Dr Alan Billings, recently re-elected as South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner for the next three years, revealed his hopes for policing achievements during his next term in charge of overseeing how South Yorkshire Police is run, funded and performs.
With his role allowing him to set a police and crime plan for South Yorkshire Police, he said he wants the force to continue focusing on organised crime groups as one of its priorities.
He said a decade of cuts in policing, with fewer police officers on the streets, had allowed OCGs to grow and get a foothold in communities across the UK.
Police officers numbers are increasing again, as part of a nationwide recruitment drive, and Dr Billings said he hopes OCGs will begin to feel the effects.
“Due to coronavirus, when officers were not pulled out with other incidents, there was lots of proactive policing work getting stuck into gangs,” he said.
“Officers were making arrests, executing warrants and rounding up people and I want that to continue.
“My view is that a really bad effect of cuts in policing over 10 years is that it allowed OCGs to really get established.
“Officers started to come down really hard during lockdown, with the armed crime team set up and making good progress, and I want that to continue.”
He said much of the serious violence on the streets in South Yorkshire has its roots in OCGs.
“It often goes back to gangs and infighting that happens between them as they compete for drugs markets,” he said.
Dr Billings added: “We are also one of 18 areas in the country with a Violence Reduction Unit, which is all about getting in early and about prevention rather than reacting to crime. It is about getting young people away from violent crime and understanding why they get caught up in it. It is important that this work continues.”
Anyone with information about OCGs should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.