Police ‘working to understand how machine guns are entering country’
Work to understand how Skorpion machine guns are coming into the country is ongoing as police believe fatal shootings in Merseyside last year followed the arrival of a consignment, the force’s chief constable has said.
Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy spoke as the force, which saw five people including nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel killed in shootings last year, was ranked outstanding in tackling serious and organised crime by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Ms Kennedy said Merseyside Police had “renewed” its commitment to crack down on organised crime groups after three fatal shootings took place in the space of a week in August 2022.
She said she believed the availability of Skorpions, which are capable of firing 800 rounds a minute, was linked to a rise in fatal shootings – with the Czech-designed weapons used in three of the five firearms deaths in Merseyside last year.
Ms Kennedy said it was believed a “consignment” of the weapons had arrived in the country at some point.
She said: “We’ve seen the devastating consequences when these weapons get into the hands of people who don’t know how to use them and are intent on using them to settle their petty disputes.
“What we have done since last August is work really closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and with the ROCU (Regional Organised Crime Unit) to understand how those weapons enter the country and to also identify where they are.
“So, we have had some successes nationally in terms of recovering those weapons off the streets of the country, and indeed here in Merseyside.”
The inspection of the North West regional response to serious and organised crime ranked the Merseyside force most highly, with North Wales Police rated inadequate and Cumbria Constabulary found to require improvement.
Lancashire and Greater Manchester Police were rated good and Cheshire was ranked adequate.
Ms Kennedy, the lead chief constable for the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), which was ranked outstanding as a whole, said: “We work really collaboratively across the forces in the North West and already on the back of those inspection reports we are looking at where some forces are struggling a little bit and how can we support them, how can we share that best practice, how can we send people across to those forces and provide that additional support and expertise.
“We know Merseyside criminals don’t stop at the force boundary, they travel across the North West and the country, which is why Merseyside Police take that collaborative approach within the North West and indeed across the whole country.”
She said officers from the force’s county lines team worked in other areas of the country to support them because of the “level of sophistication and also not knowing who those criminals are”.
The HMICFRS inspection found Cumbria Constabulary did not have enough analytical capacity to fully understand and manage the threat from serious and organised crime.
A spokesman for the force said following the inspection in March recommendations were already being implemented.
He said: “We’re proud of our success at Cumbria Constabulary in consistently catching and putting before the courts members of organised crime groups, with significant sentences handed out to those involved in this type of offending.”Published: by Radio NewsHub