Liverpool is in the middle of a fresh gang crisis after a horrifying few days of bloodshed on the city's streets amid rising shootings and gun crime.
While nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was gunned down in the city on Monday night (August 22), a woman was also stabbed as another woman, Ashley Dale, was killed over the weekend.
Now police have appealed to crime bosses to “examine their consciences” over Olivia's tragic killing, who died after she was shot by a masked attacker who had chased a man into her home.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: "I also want to take the opportunity to appeal to members of the criminal fraternity, and ask them to examine their consciences as they will have vital information that can help us.
“The killing of a nine-year-old child is an absolute tragedy, and crosses every single boundary, and I would urge them to do the right thing so we can put this person behind bars.”
The suspected target of the shooting, a 35-year-old man, has been arrested for breaching the terms of his prison licence while police are still hunting the shooter.
The killing of Olivia Pratt-Korbel came 15 years to the day that 11-year-old Rhys Jones was also gunned down.
The city has sadly had a long history with crime, guns and gangland wars.
A 2009 report from the University of Huddersfield delved into the issues.
Titled Young People's Involvement in Gangs and Guns in Liverpool, the report centres around the younger population from the areas of Anfield, Everton and Kirkdale.
The team behind the research was headed by Professor Hannah Smithson, and several “practitioners” and young people were interviewed to find out just how big the issue was at the time – and evidently, still is.
The authors write: “The research identified that some young people particularly those from Anfield, Everton and Kirkdale were involved in more structured criminal groups operating within illegal drug markets.
“These organised groups are distinct from those loose friendship groups described by youths from Norris Green and Croxteth.
“Gun crime in Liverpool represents a small proportion of all crime – it is unclear what proportion of Liverpool gun crime is attributable to young people although national figures highlight that victims of gun crime are disproportionately young.
“Young people interviewed confirmed that they had access to guns but stated that gun availability had reduced in Liverpool as a result of police operations.
“Young people spoke of firearms being ‘passed down’ or borrowed rather than bought.
“Links between gang involvement and gun crime were identified with gang involved young people more likely to become involved with crime and gun crime to non-gang involved young people.”
The report also touches on the different gangs in various postcode areas of the city – although some of the experts throw doubt on whether these gangs are real.
An expert from “Youth Services” said: “In Liverpool it’s very different to other parts of the country – in other parts of the country a lot of the gang culture is organised, it’s criminal, there are hierarchies, but in Liverpool it’s not like that.
“Here its groups of young people, predominately men who may have started some mischief and it’s escalated and people have labelled them gangs.
“It’s not organised, they don’t have a hierarchy as far as I know.
“Some of the young people who have been mentioned by name I do know some of them and if I don’t I know people who do, so I do think it’s very different in Liverpool.”
One of the most infamous gangs from the city is the Strand Gang – also known as Nogzy Soldiers.
They were at war with the Croxteth Crew in the 2000s.
Their most prominent member was Liam Smith who was shot on August 23, 2006, after going to visit a friend in prison.
While there, he bumped into rival gang member Ryan Lloyd – an altercation ensued and Liam left the prison.
But outside, 20 members of the gang pounced and the 19-year-old was shot at point blank range in the head with a sawn-off shotgun.
The report – which was removed from the university's website overnight – made 19 recommendations.
While some were introduced at the time, it now appears gang violence is on the rise in the city again.
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