A major policing operation which aims to tackle serious and violent crime and put the people responsible for committing it behind bars will be launched across Merseyside today, Monday 1st July.
In May it was announced that Merseyside Police would receive £4.2m from the Home Office’s £100m Serious Violence Fund to tackle issues including knife and gun crime.
The money is being used to fund Operation Target – a forcewide operation which will bring in extra dedicated staff, additional resources and equipment and targeted intelligence in a bid to tackle serious violence head-on.
As well as gun and knife crime the operation will also focus on serious assaults, armed robberies and murder investigations and will look at wider issues such as violence in night time economy areas, County Lines and drugs use.
The new operation will see more high visibility police officers on the streets and the purchase of additional equipment such as hand held metal detectors and metal detecting gloves for frontline officers.
There will be increased disruption activity including stop searches; roadside checks; open land searches and test purchasing.
Work will also be done to develop further intelligence around types of crimes and key areas and tactics in order to directly target those involved in serious violence and we will be working in close partnership with local authorities, the Youth Offending Service and health and social care professionals to share information and good practice.
Early intervention work will also continue in schools and youth groups and communities.
Chief Superintendent Matt Boyle said: "We know what concerns the people of Merseyside and although resources have been put into tackling these issues in the past this additional funding from the Home Office means our response will now be even bigger and better.
"We know issues such as knife and gun crime really impact on our communities and we are committed to tackling these issues head on and really making a difference.
"We now have the funding to put more officers in the places that we need them most – either high visibility patrols in our communities or in our city and town centres at night and peak times.
"It also means that we can develop our intelligence around offenders, pay for additional equipment to assist operations and investigations, engage with our local schools and communities and work with our partners to adopt a co-ordinated approach to tackling serious violence.
"This will be a one team approach with officers and staff from across the Force including roads policing, armed response, investigations, dogs and mounted and neighbourhood officers as well as call handlers, intelligence staff, forensics officers and support staff involved in making Operation Target a success.
"Some of this work will take place behind the scenes but I hope that the public will recognise our continued commitment to making Merseyside an even safer place to live, work and visit.
"I also hope that it will give confidence to people and reassure them that we will continue to take positive action to protect all victims of serious crime and bring criminals to justice.”
Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "Tackling serious and organised crime has always been a priority, but by securing this additional ‘surge’ funding from the Home Office, Merseyside Police can now allocate more resources to tackling the issues that matter most to our communities and carry the greatest risk to people living in Merseyside.
"This money will be concentrated on preventing crime, particularly that which has the capacity to cause most harm. It will also enable the Force to invest more in the really important proactive and prevention work used to put the criminals on the back foot that has suffered from years of budget cuts.
"I hope this increase in high visibility police patrols and operations focussing on reducing and reacting to street violence will provide reassurance to the public, prevent more young people from becoming involved in a life of crime and make a genuine difference in the lives of people in some of our most troubled areas, making Merseyside a safer place for everyone."
There will be a Twitter Q&A and Instagram questions forum on tackling violence in the night time economy which will take place between 6pm-7pm on Wednesday 3rd July with representatives from Merseyside Police, licensing, City Safe and Merseyside licensees. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #OpTarget