How Liverpool’s success in bringing down crime bosses may have led to a rise in gang violence
The murder of schoolgirl Olivia Pratt-Korbel may be linked to the continued disruption of the underworld caused by the hacking of a secret messaging service and the Covid-19 pandemic, a former police chief has said.
Merseyside Police believe the shooting of Olivia after a criminal fleeing a gunman broke into her home is linked to organized crime.
Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen said it could mean a connection to drug trafficking, an ongoing feud or just a zip code rivalry between gangs, but said his team was “keeping an open mind”.
The horrific killing was one of three gun murders in the area in less than a week, including the death of 28-year-old Ashley Dale, who was shot in the garden of her home, and Sam Rimmer, 22, who was shot. down the street.
The events have appalled Merseyside Police after the force went more than a year without a fatal incident with a firearm and a string of successful prosecutions of serious offenders.
There has been a spate of murders over the summer in other cities across the UK, with violent crime increasing as pandemic restrictions have been lifted over the past twelve months. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a 10% increase in knife crime and a 25% increase in homicides for the year ending March 2022.
Experts have a number of theories as to why gang-related crime might be on the rise. Some believe that the successful prosecution of thousands of lawbreakers under Operation Venetic may have had an unintended impact.
In early 2020, European police forces hacked EncroChat, the encrypted messaging service used by around 60,000 criminals.
Last year, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said the UK branch of the investigation – codenamed Venetic – had led to the arrest of more than 1,500 criminals as well as huge seizures of money, drugs, firearms and criminal ammunition.
It is believed that other criminals may have fled the country because they know their messages have been compromised.
EncroChat-enabled phones reportedly cost up to £3,000 a year and were therefore mainly used by more established criminals.
As a result, those who operate within the higher levels of authority in gangs have been removed from the streets, leaving a power vacuum in which younger, more unstable characters now commit acts of violence.
Former Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy said I “It’s absolutely a possibility.”
“Certainly when you look at why gun crime is suddenly on the rise, why there’s been a string of shootings, it’s often about certain types of people trying to reclaim their turf and be this ‘Mr Big’ “, did he declare.
“It’s a bit of a dilemma for the police because okay, you lock up a few people, but has that produced any long-term benefits? Or is it causing an increase in violence?
Mr Fahy also said a backlog of cases waiting to be processed by the courts has been compounded by the pandemic, meaning some criminals are still on the streets or had to be released from pre-trial detention in due to retention periods.
“There are delays in the criminal justice system and the problem is how do you keep people in custody?” he added. “You have these characters who take the p*** with the system and know what’s going on.”
A “sharp increase” in removals of young people at risk of criminal exploitation due to school closures during the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis have all exacerbated the problem.
“These are happy days for organized crime, whether it’s lending money, dealing drugs, using devices to hijack meters, I’m just afraid there’s a big dislocation between ordinary people and the ongoing debate at the political level,” Fahy added.