Gang crime officer leaves

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A SENIOR police officer responsible for tackling gun and gang crime in Sheffield has retired after 30 years in the force.

Chief Superintendent Andy Barrs, who was also Sheffield’s Deputy District Commander, began overseeing the way the county’s police force deals with gun and gang crime after 16-year-old Jonathan Matondo was shot dead in a children’s playground in Burngreave in October 2007.

Chf Supt Barrs, aged 48, was at a meeting in the Sheffield suburb on the night of the killing and was tasked with developing the way gang crime was being dealt with in the city.

The teenager was a member of the S3 postcode gang which operated in Burngreave and Pitsmoor when he was gunned down. In less than a year two other fellow gang members were also murdered.

Brett Blake, aged 23, from Longley, was stabbed to death in a city nightclub and 17-year-old Tarek Chaiboub, of Wincobank, who was shot at a city barber shop.

South Yorkshire Police now have a specialist gang enforcement team operating in the city, which identifies and prosecutes gang members for criminality but which also tries to prevent youngsters from becoming embroiled in gangs in the first place.

Chf Supt Barrs started his career with South Yorkshire Police as a cadet in 1979, where he spent two years training in a range of departments across the county before taking up his first post as a young bobby in Dinnington.

He also worked as a response car driver in Rotherham before spending six years as a traffic officer.

He has also worked in Barnsley and from Attercliffe police station as well as heading up the force’s firearms support group.

In 2005 he was given responsibility for rolling out the Safer Neighbourhood Policing programme, where communities are given their own dedicated policing team to respond to incidents and find long-term solutions to local issues.

“I have enjoyed it all and have seen a lot during my career - the miners’ strike and the Hillsborough disaster among them. But the most rewarding side of it has been working with communities,” he said.

“The guns and gang role evolved from the shooting of Jonathan Matondo in 2007. I was at a meeting close to where it happened so when I was told about the death I went straight to the scene and got involved from there.

“It has involved enforcement work as well as education, such as the Tackling Knives programme we run.”