Tony Lloyd has thanked the public for their support in tackling gun crime across Greater Manchester.
The Commissioner today opened a two-day conference held by Greater Manchester Police to illustrate the dramatic reductions in gang and youth violence.
Taking place on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 October 2013 the event will be attended by statutory agencies, including police from across the UK who deal with gun crime.
Titled ‘The Manchester Journey – Tackling Gangs & Youth Violence Together’, it is being staged after a number of agencies asked to visit the region to find out how it has achieved its success.
The conference will take delegates through the journey chronologically, starting with the Scuttlers over 100 years ago to stress that gangs are not a new phenomenon. It will then move to more recent times with the murder of Benji Stanley in 1993, and take delegates up to the present day by covering a number of milestones when agencies became more involved.
Today, tackling gun crime in Greater Manchester is less about enforcement and more about engaging with those who might be tempted to join gangs.
An Integrated Gang Management Unit has now been established which brings together expertise from the probation, children’s and youth offending services, and safeguards young people, families and communities affected by gangs. The unit also has an officer dedicated to helping young people move away from the gang lifestyle and find a career.
This multi-agency approach has helped to achieve the dramatic decline in firearms discharges, because every response to gang and youth violence is now highly coordinated.
Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Shenton oversees the Xcalibre Task Force, GMP’s response to gun crime.
He said: “GMP has led the way nationally in reducing and sustaining the reduction of firearms discharges over several years, and this gives communities confidence that we will respond positively to their information and concerns about this most serious of crimes.
“We are justifiably proud of all our hard work, but this success is not solely a GMP achievement – it has been down to everyone working together. We always said that policing by itself was not the solution, as we can only enforce the law, and that tackling this type of crime needs long-term strategies to address social issues around education, housing and opportunities.
“Success has not made us complacent, as the Xcalibre Task Force still works in areas where gangs are operating, and we will continue to target criminals who use, house and supply firearms. We will also continue to work with our partners to identify those who are likely to pursue a gang lifestyle, so we can divert them from that path.”
As well as these tactics, the Xcalibre team works with regional, national and government agencies to stem the supply of firearms and ammunition, and is committed to working with all agencies and communities over the long term.
This is demonstrated by the commitment shown to Project Gulf in Salford, which has done so much to combat organised crime groups in the city.
Tony said: “Greater Manchester is a safe place to live, but there is a small minority that believes communities can be ruled by fear. The success of Xcalibre in tackling gun and gang crime is proof that only by standing together can we defeat these individuals.
“It’s about the police, probation, local councils, youth offending services, and most importantly, local people working together to get to the causes of crime and bringing real, long-term change. It’s also about empowering young people who may be tempted to join a gang to choose a better way.
“But the journey is not yet over and we have to continue to keep up the pressure to dismantle these gangs. We can only do that with the help of local communities and I want to thank them for their continued support as we build the safest communities in Britain.”