Birmingham & Black Country

Wolverhampton rival gangs in 'postcode war' over drugs

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Media captionPolice plan crackdown on knife crime

Rival gangs in Wolverhampton are embroiled in a "postcode war" over drugs, the city's new police chief says.

Organised crime groups behind the drug lines have drawn in young people who are now competing against one another, Supt Tom Chisholm said.

A teenager remains in hospital after being shot in the head in Penn Fields amid rising tensions.

West Midlands Police has increased patrols and stop-and-search operations.

The latest Office of National Statistics figures show police recorded 24 gun offences per 100,000 residents in the force area in 2017-18.

On Good Friday, a six-year-old boy suffered gunshot wounds when shots were fired at a house in Ashbourne Road, Eastfield.

In May 2018, Keelan Wilson, 15, was ambushed by a gang and stabbed to death in the Merry Hill area.

Image caption A 16-year-old boy was shot in the head in the city on 7 May

Supt Chisholm, head of Wolverhampton Police, said officers needed to understand the drivers behind the rise in violence, which he said included organised crime.

"These organised crime groups that actually sit behind those drug lines [are] targeting young people," he said.

"That translates to things that we see happen out and about in the community, where young gangs of people are sort of the feeder groups to the organised crime groups [and are] competing.

Gang life

"So it's very much a postcode war we're seeing at the moment between groups across Wolverhampton coming together and these firearm discharges occur."

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Image caption West Midlands Police has said the investigation into Keelan's death was ongoing

There have been six arrests since since Keelan's death, but no one has been charged with his murder.

Officers in the city said they often know the identity of gang members, but need more help from the community to bring them to justice.

Mr Chisholm said they will be using local intelligence and actively targeting those who are going to cause harm.

The increased police patrols would continue over the summer, while PCSOs and other officers have been going into schools to educate young people about the dangers of county lines and gang life, he added.

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