A dedicated task force to tackle street gangs in the West Midlands, set up by police at the start of this year has resulted in the arrest of over 120 people so far.
The task force aims to provide a visible presence across the force to deal with gangs and actively engage with youngsters to promote an alternative to gang membership and involvement.
On Monday 6th August officers from the Gang Task Force have carried out warrants in the Quinton area of Birmingham. A 22-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply following the raid on the house on West Boulevard. Officers also raided a nearby cafe on Court Oak Road, following complaints of drug dealing at the premises. Following the raid, officers placed a crack house closure on the premises.
The team of 35 officers covers the whole force area and works closely with colleagues who police the local policing units.
The team use both high-visibility uniform patrols and plain clothes work to tackle gang issues through partnership work and engagement with local communities.
Their aim is to disrupt the activities of the approximate 23 urban street gangs across the West Midlands whose activities impact on the local community.
This is done by actively engaging with youngsters and working closely with partner agencies to divert kids away from the gang lifestyle.
DCI Simon Wallis said: "We are not going to be targeting youngsters who are out in groups with friends- this is about tackling the urban street gangs who cause crime and anti-social behaviour."
"There is a real joint focus upon reducing the attraction of joining criminal gangs in the first place. The work starts in the family home, in youth groups and through education in our schools across the region. This education work includes sharing powerful and emotive stories of those who have lost loved ones to gang violence, as well as accounts of those who thought it may be glamorous only to see themselves serving long prison sentences, a stark realisation that it is anything but glamorous."
As well as the intervention work taking place, the task force will also be carrying out enforcement- warrants and arresting those who continue in their criminal lifestyle.
In the first six months, over 60 premises have been search and the task force have recovered six firearms and thousands of pounds in crime monies and Class A drugs.
DCI Wallis spoke to Heart when we went out on a drugs raid on Monday morning: