Greater Manchester ‘has 176 gangs’ – almost a quarter have access to guns

Police chiefs estimate that 176 organized crime groups – OCGs – are currently active in Greater Manchester, with nearly a quarter of the identified gangs having access to weapons. Drugs would remain the “primary crime type” for the vast majority of organized crime groups.

Out of 176,55 active organized crime groups are said to ‘affect the city of Manchester’ – accounting for 31 per cent of all known OCGs in Greater Manchester. Oldham and Salford have the second highest number of organized crime groups, at 19 and 18 respectively, a new report shows.

The data and details have been incorporated into a new crime-fighting strategy launched by the Greater Manchester Police Force to tackle criminal gangs. Crime gangs in Greater Manchester are largely focused on firearms, money laundering, modern slavery and human trafficking, child sexual abuse and organized greed, according to the strategy report.

According to the police, research has also shown an increase in the number of OCGs involved in organized ‘procurement crime’, with seven percent of all known gangs allegedly involved in organized robberies, burglaries or car thefts.

The report also reveals a ‘solid increase’ in the number of UK-born victims of modern slavery, linked to the increasing recognition of child exploitation as a form of modern slavery and human trafficking. “Criminal exploitation now accounts for the largest number of potential victims in Greater Manchester, followed by sexual exploitation,” it says.

Figures show that since 2016, the number of recorded modern slavery offenses in Greater Manchester has increased by a staggering 69 percent – ​​from 137 to 554 in 2021. “Complex security teams in Greater Manchester work with up to 550 children and young people at risk of being exploited in any time,” the report added.

The new strategy has been launched by GMP

It reveals that more than 3,500 potential modern slavery cases have been “tried” between December 2019 and December 2021, with 21 victims being cared for with individual support plans and 21 arrests made directly from the cases.

However, police say the overall picture of serious and organized crime in Greater Manchester is always changing – as criminal groups and individuals are better understood and tackled, and new threats emerge.

The Serious and Organized Crime Strategy was created by Program Challenger – a multi-group partnership that has been working together since 2013 to tackle individuals and networks in Greater Manchester.

The strategy sets out how the partnership will work together to support people who have been exploited by organized crime groups. It also emphasizes the pursuit of perpetrators and targeted action to tackle ‘county lines’ operations, and how partners take action to prevent people from becoming victims or perpetrators.

GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson said in the report: “Across Manchester, dangerous individuals and groups continue to harm individuals and their families through violent and exploitative offences.

Armed police on patrol in Manchester

“Often the victims are targeted because they are vulnerable for many different reasons, so it is critical that we continue to work with a wide range of partners to prevent people from becoming victims, while firmly tackling the responsible perpetrators.

“Working with regional and state law enforcement agencies, we have seen an unprecedented number of arrests related to Encrochat in response to GMP’s National Crime Agency Operation Venetic. With more than 200 suspects arrested, the central and local Program Challenger teams have played an important role role in achieving this through both strong leadership and effective governance.

“While we want to celebrate the successes, we recognize as a partnership that there is still so much to do. We are committed to working closely with our partners and our communities, who are vital in the fight against those involved in the organized crime.

“We are committed to investigating all crimes and relentlessly disrupting organized criminals. GMP seizes more criminal assets. We know that many of the problems we face can only be tackled by working together.”

Drugs – their manufacturing, transport and supply – would remain the “primary crime type” for 144 of the identified OCGs, corresponding to the vast majority.

Police say investigations are now increasing knowledge of ‘secondary and tertiary crime types’ that groups engage in – allegedly money laundering generated in the UK and internationally, criminal exploitation and the use and supply of firearms.

GMP chief Stephen Watson

“At least 23 percent of identified OCGs in Greater Manchester have access to firearms, but it is likely that many more people will soon have access to firearms,” ​​the report said.

Crucially, the police have also found that a ‘large proportion’ of OCGs operating in Greater Manchester are ‘increasingly crossing boundaries between local boroughs, police districts and regions’ – so-called ‘county lines’ operations.

The report adds: “There is an increasing diversity in the types of crime committed by those involved in serious and organized crime and many OCGs will be involved in multiple criminal activities at the same time (polycrime).

“The improved understanding of how organized crime groups work highlights the hidden ways that serious and organized crime affects our communities. Serious and organized crime is not limited to certain communities or certain people, and there is an essential role that can be played by anyone who live, work and socialize in the city region to understand and report it.”

The report highlights success stories for GMP: In 2021, more than £7 million were seized from individuals involved in serious and organized crime in Greater Manchester.

After a series of disputes in the Cheetham Hill and north Manchester area, officers found an Uzi machine gun and large quantities of Class A drugs, along with £20,000 in cash. Five members of an OCG were subsequently sentenced to a total of more than 50 years in prison.

Drugs remain a ‘primary crime type’ for OCGs

The priorities of the Serious and Organized Crime Strategy include:

– Targeted action against serious and organized criminals, stopping the problem at the source.

– Support opportunities to build resilience within communities, with a focus on preventing people from becoming victims and perpetrators.

– Collaborate to develop innovative, evidence-based approaches.

– Improving understanding of current and emerging threats.

– Support improved response to partnerships through information sharing.

Police chiefs said the strategy was “much more than a piece of paper.”

Chief Inspector Claire McGuire, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “This is a promise to the people of Greater Manchester that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to keep communities safe from the damage and misery caused by this type of crime. caused to be removed.

“The impact of serious and organized crime is far-reaching and can manifest itself in many ways, but by working closely with our partners, we can build on the success Program Challenger has already had in dismantling and stopping criminal groups.

“I hope the launch of this strategy sends a clear signal to the communities that their safety is our priority and that we will not stand by and let organized criminals destroy our streets. We will continue to prosecute those involved and would encourage anyone with suspicions to have confidence in reporting them.”

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