Shooting incidents have plummeted by a staggering 92% in north Manchester in the past year, according to the latest figures.
Following what has been described as an “assault” on the city’s gangs and organised crime groups, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now revealed that it has seen dozens of arrests made, and a number of significant seizures of drugs and firearms too.
It comes after specialist officers have “spearheaded the offensive”, according to GMP, with support from local detectives and neighbourhood teams continuing to take the fight to criminals operating in the north of Manchester.
GMP explains that targeted work led by the intelligence development team (IDT) to tackle a spike in shootings in early 2021 has led to reported firearms discharges dropping from 26 in 2020-21 to just two in the last 12 months, with none since last July, and during that same time period, 33 firearms have been taken from the streets of north Manchester – which is up from 29 the previous year.
“This demonstrates officers’ continued drive to use intelligence to tackle the possession of potentially lethal weapons,” GMP said.
Working alongside detectives from the Serious Organised Crime Group (SOCG) and firearms investigation team, the action taken by the IDT has seen an increase in “proactive disruption activity”, with the execution of 72 drugs warrants, 58 firearms raids, and over 200 stop-searches resulting in 191 arrests.
Some of the weapons recovered during these seizures include revolvers, shotguns, converted blank-firing guns, knuckle-dusters and air refiles, according to GMP.
GMP says that investigators have also been focused on dismantling the source of some of the city’s gang disputes.
This primarily involved the cultivation, use, and supply of class A and B drugs, especially after the force said there was a noticeable increase in aggravated burglaries last summer in places such as Cheetham Hill, Crumpsall and Blackley, where groups of men were seen targeting addresses armed with weapons and demanding drugs – particularly where they believed there were sophisticated cannabis farms.
On some occasions, these gangs went to the wrong addresses which saw innocent people having their homes invaded and being threatened with weapons.
GMP says incidents like these are “completely intolerable” and enquiries into this are ongoing.
The force also says it is keen to continue to confront suspected organised criminals operating in north Manchester, and that it takes concerns about suspected criminal activity “very seriously”, and routinely takes action on the back of information the public give us.
With temperatures expected to reach as low as -5C by Friday, 29 November, the Met Office and UKHSA pushed out an amber heat-health alert on Wednesday, with the elderly, clinically vulnerable and the health sector in general said to be those most at risk.
Although the freezing weather obviously has the potential to affect everyone — with the likes of the North East and Northern Ireland having already been given a yellow weather warning as well — amber heat-health warnings are deemed to require an ‘enhanced response‘ as they are likely to significantly impact “across the whole health service” and possibly other sectors too.
Under the relatively new CHA (cold-health alert) system, anything beyond a yellow level alert means that it is expected that there will be increased use of healthcare services by vulnerable populations and an increase in risk to health to individuals over the age of 65, those with pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and other vulnerable groups like rough sleepers.
As well as the Met Office offering their verdict, the UKHSA’s Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection, Dr Agostinho Sousa, said: “With a risk of widespread overnight frosts and some snow across the country this week, it’s important to check in on the wellbeing of those most vulnerable to the cold.
“Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people, and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat the rooms where you spend most of your time in[doors], such as your living room or bedroom.”
For those considered to be at risk during this cold snap and amber-heat health warning, the official government-sanctioned advice is that if you can’t heat all the rooms in your home, it is important to heat the rooms you spend the (i.e. living room in the day and bedroom before going to sleep) to at least 18 degrees if possible.
They also recommend wearing a few thin layers instead of one thick layer, as the former is better at trapping heat than just one big jumper etc.
Other advice on how to stay safe during these colder periods includes stocking up on food and medicine, keeping windows closed and reducing draughts at home, as well as getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can get in touch with the NHS on 111 and if it is an emergency please call 999 immediately.
Man jailed for raping and assaulting two women as they slept
A man has been jailed after being convicted of raping and sexually assaulting two women while they were sleeping.
Alan Pickering, 40, from Wirral, has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars as well as four years on an extended license.
During the trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the court heard that his victims had woken up to find that Pickering was raping them, with neither giving their consent.
Both victims then repeatedly asked him to stop, but he continued to assault them.
His crimes took place between January 2004 and July 2020 on ‘multiple occasions’ in the Chester and Wirral areas.
Pickering, of Procter Road in Rock Ferry, had previously been found guilty of five counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault by penetration following an earlier trial.
The latest allegations against the man came to light in 2020 after a report was made to social services at Cheshire West and Chester, which was passed on to Cheshire Police.
In addition to his prison sentence, Pickering has also been ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life, and handed indefinite restraining orders against the victims.
Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Peel, who led the investigation, said: “Firstly I would like to commend the victims for the courage and bravery that they have shown throughout this case.
“I know that Pickering’s offending has had a hugely traumatic impact on the victims and having to give evidence during the trial was not easy for them.
“But thanks to the statements they gave, and the evidence we gathered, the jury we’re able to see through his lies and he is now finally being held accountable for his actions.”
Detective Constable Peel added: “Nobody should have to experience what these women have been though and if anything can be achieved from this case, I hope that it encourages other victims of sexual offences to come forward and report them to us.
“We treat all reports extremely seriously, and any allegation will be thoroughly investigated, with the wishes and needs of the victim as our main priority.
“Victims should never feel ashamed to talk about what they have been subjected to. They will receive the help and support they need from our specialist officers, as well as from other support agencies we work alongside, and all victims of sexual offences have the right to anonymity.”