Criminal gangs 'burying weapons and drugs' in Sheffield parks to avoid capture

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Criminal gangs are burying weapons and drugs in public parks rather than stashing them at home in a sneaky bid to avoid being caught by police.

Offenders are employing the unusual tactic to hide their ill-gotten gains in secluded public parks, bushes and woodland across Sheffield.

Police conducting the searches.

Police conducting the searches.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Knives and weapons found hidden on Sheffield streets as part of police campaign

This means police sometimes end up coming away from raids empty handed - resulting in the suspects getting away unpunished.

Police revealed the tactic as they conducted searches of public parks this morning in the Arbourthorne and Manor areas as part of a wider initiative to crackdown on organised crime gangs.

Pc Leon Rudkin, who led the search, said: "Parks should not be used for criminality like this, they are there to be enjoyed by the public.

"But we are here today searching these parks as a show of force so they know we are watching them and this kind of tactic will not work nor will it be tolerated."

Detective superintendent Una Jennings

Detective superintendent Una Jennings

Officers were not able to say yet what they had found from the first park they searched this morning - just off Daresbury View, Arbourthorne.

However, previous searches in Burngreave in February recovered a number of knives, a small kitchen knife, metal bars, a saw and a screwdriver.

READ MORE: Knives found hidden in shrubbery in Sheffield suburb

Today's searches are part of a wider day of action in south east Sheffield, which has also seen increased patrols by officers on horseback and on off-road bikes.

The police van has also been out and about giving the public a chance to drop in and raise concerns about crime in their neighbourhood.

Police at the scene.

Police at the scene.

The activity took place under the banner of Operation Fortify, a regular police blitz on organised crime.

Police warned there would be more action including executing search warrants, targeting known criminals and increased patrols in the coming months.

Meanwhile, there are also plans to visit schools to speak to children about the dangers of carrying weapons and in particular knives.

READ MORE: Boy, 14, found carrying knife in Sheffield
The work will first be focused in the south eastern part of the city before being rolled out to other areas.

Police in Arbourthorne.

Police in Arbourthorne.

Detective superintendent Una Jennings said: "What we are saying to the criminality in Sheffield is you can expect a swift, robust response from the police services in relation to organised crime. It has no place in our communities.

"We will be working with the community in the next weeks and months to ensure that Sheffield and indeed South Yorkshire remains a safe place to live, work and raise our children."

Police on horseback.

Police on horseback.