Northamptonshire suffers 'massive increase' in gangs
A rural county has experienced a massive increase in gang-related activity, according to police.
Northamptonshire Police has launched appeals on child sexual exploitation in gangs, and drug dealers setting up in the homes of vulnerable people.
Three people were jailed for their parts in an ammonia attack and two more for a shooting, both gang-related.
Det Insp Daryl Lyon said "hundreds of years of jail time" had been handed out to offenders in recent years.
He said Wellingborough, Northampton, East Northamptonshire and Kettering all had "issues with gangs".
Mr Lyon said gangs presented "a very lavish lifestyle" with expensive watches and cars, without showing "the other side of gangs, which is extreme violence".
In January, three gang members who threw ammonia into a crowd outside a branch of McDonald's in Northampton were jailed.
The three men, all from Wellingborough, admitted using a noxious substance in July last year, with intent to cause harm to rival gang members.
Jake Price, 22, and Ijuha Stirling-Campbell, 21, were jailed for 34 months while Frank Taylor, 25, was given a 33-month term.
In March, two people were sentenced at Northampton Crown Court for their part in a gang-related shooting in Wellingborough.
The 18-year-old victim had been mistakenly identified as a member of a rival gang - and blasted in the leg with a shotgun.
Chanze Nolan, 21, from Winnington Close, Rectory Farm, who fired the gun, was sentenced to nine years, seven months in jail.
Devontae Harris, 18, from Standens Barn, Northampton, was sentenced to eight years for wounding with intent after pleading guilty to his part in the incident.
Earlier this month, a Home Office inspection found Northamptonshire Police "requires improvement" when dealing with organised crime.
The force has recently launched two new campaigns in an attempt to clampdown on gang activity.
Officers are warning about the risks of child sexual exploitation in gangs and of 'cuckooing,' a crime whereby gangs travel to smaller towns from cities to take over the homes of vulnerable people and deal drugs.
The force said gangs "typically recruit and exploit children and vulnerable young people to courier drugs and cash".
The BBC also discovered students at the University of Northampton had faced "rampant intimidation" from drug dealing gang members.
The news was revealed in the minutes of a recent Crimestoppers meeting, in which Northamptonshire Police Det Insp Tony Hopkins also gave an update about county lines drug dealing.
Young or vulnerable people are being sent to smaller areas to "find somewhere to set up and sell the drugs", according to the minutes of the meeting.
Chief Constable Simon Edens said the force was working with councils across the county to improve "strategic governance" around serious organised crime and street gangs.