Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Dave Thompson is urging parents and the public to help police beat guns and knives.
Mr Thompson has released the following open letter to parents and the general public across the West Midlands today (10/08):
Over the last few weeks a number of violent incidents and unusual events have taken place within the force area.
There have been a number of serious stabbings of which 10 have resulted in deaths since May. For the first time in seventeen years, WMP discharged a firearm, injuring a man. In the early hours of Tuesday morning officers in an unmarked car were shot at. I am aware these events will concern local people and I want to set out West Midlands Police’s approach to these serious matters and how the public can help us.
Where people have been killed or seriously injured our thoughts are always on caring and supporting their loved ones and bringing those responsible to justice. While I cannot comment in detail upon the current investigations, West Midlands Police has a very good record of catching and convicting people who commit these violent acts.
If you engage in knife and gun crime you can expect to be caught and serve a very long sentence.
In the cases of the recent knife crime offences there is no obvious link between incidents nor a clear and apparent connection, pattern or hotspot. What is clear is that knives appear to have been carried and used by a number of young men. We have to ensure they are deterred from carrying these weapons by making clear they put themselves in danger and they face life changing punishment if they are caught.
We will continue this education in the short and long term. I would also urge parents to play their part in understanding the behaviour of their children. I also intend to increase searching and enforcement in areas like our night time economy or places where we anticipate violence and have clear intelligence to act.
We will be increasing our use of Section 60 search powers to deter violence and detect weapons. We will continue to ensure we respect young people’s rights and work with local communities as we know searching can be intrusive, and if overused, harm the police / public relationship.
We have seen a significant increase in the discharge of weapons this year. Many of these cases are linked and specific intelligence-led operations are being carried out against those using and supplying weapons.
As you will appreciate we use sensitive tactics in these cases and I do not wish to detail these. We have seized weapons in cases under investigation and made arrests. These operations have seen an increased deployment of firearms officers in areas affected and against those we suspect of gun crime. As has been seen these operations do bring additional risks. I would reassure people that firearms operations are tightly controlled and commanded by very senior officers.
No one wants to see the type of violence we have seen and the public can help us. We would ask you to tell us who is carrying knifes and weapons. Tell us what you may know about firearms and ammunition in your area. I am determined people should be in fear of breaking the law and where you have information you can help us create a hostile environment for those who seek to promote these violent acts.
Where young people are being drawn into gangs or violence then let us know as we work with many agencies to help divert those at risk of a dangerous lifestyle. We would always prefer to divert people from crime.
The officers and staff of West Midlands Police have and will continue to work tirelessly against this threat and the help and support of the public is vital in this work.