Why we must all play our part to tackle OCGs now operating in almost every community in Sheffield
With South Yorkshire Police admitting that organised crime groups operate in almost every community in Sheffield now, it is understandable to feel concerned.
These OCGs are responsible for many of the stabbings and shootings seen on the city’s streets these days, as turf wars turn increasingly violent.
Drugs are usually at the root of OCG violence, with gang members prepared to maim or even kill as a warning to rivals or in retaliation for earlier incidents.
To be shot, slashed or stabbed is not uncommon as a gang member as those higher up the chain rake in the cash.
Some people have little sympathy for those injured in OCG feuds and opt against helping the police, believing it to be ‘only criminals’ who get hurt.
But what about cases of mistaken identify, cases of children being groomed and exploited by the gangs and those communities living in fear of what is going to happen next, where residents are scared to leave their homes at night?
What about terrified vulnerable people forced by gangs to allow their homes to be used as a base for their criminality – as a storage place for drugs and guns or as a place to deal from?
South Yorkshire Police mounted a major operation last week aimed at those involved with organised crime gangs in Sheffield.
It was the culmination of a six-month operation and it saw dozens of homes raided and drugs, weapons and cash seized.
The operation should serve as a warning to gangs of the scale of the work undertaken in the background to identify gangs, map their activity and establish those involved.
Specialist dedicated police teams, working with partner agencies, are involved and inroads are being made daily, with gangs regularly dismantled and key players jailed.
But there are always others ready to move in and take over a patch, which is why communities are being urged to play their part and come forward with information, trusting that it will be acted upon.
Police and partners will always take enforcement action but with drug dealing so lucrative to gang kingpins the battle is never ending. As soon as one OCG is shut down, work has to go into preventing replacements moving in as quickly as the previous one was busted.
Information is key to helping the police piece together which OCGs are operating and where.
To give police the upper hand, communities need to take a stand.
Remember when an innocent 12-year-old boy was shot for being in the wrong place at thew wrong time when a gang member opened fire on the Arbourthorne estate in January last year? It sent shockwaves across the city.
Can you say you have done your bit to help prevent anything similar happening again?
The more that communities pass on details of who is dealing drugs or walking the streets armed, the more chance police have of apprehending those involved before they inflict any more misery on our great city.