Gun crime 'acute' in Liverpool, says new Matrix boss

Liverpool is facing an acute gun crime problem, the new boss of Merseyside Police's elite Matrix unit has said.

Det Ch Supt Paul Richardson said "factions" of young people were even using guns to settle trivial disputes.

Mr Richardson said: "I have got to turn communities against the kind of anti-social behaviour that leads to people shooting at each other."

A spate of shootings has taken place in the city recently, particularly in the Norris Green area.

Last month Joseph Thompson, 32, was killed and another man was wounded in a shooting on Ravensthorpe Green.

Police raided two derelict homes in the area on Tuesday night as they hunted for weapons used by gang members, and uncovered a meat cleaver.

'Urchins' targeted

Mr Richardson, who took over the anti-gun and gang crime unit four weeks ago, added: "I have come back to a very acute problem.

"We've had a high number of firearms discharges since April, which are probably related to three factional disputes.

"I am fairly confident that 80% of our firearms discharges are related to drugs and the drugs trade."

He said: "These people come out of their houses and fire five or six shots down the road at an individual riding on a bike.

"They don't appreciate the consequence that at any second in that period of time that they are firing that gun, an innocent person can walk down the street and get hit by a bullet."

Part of Mr Richardson's strategy will be to target the "urchins who shoot at one another's house to resolve disputes - petty disputes on occasions - to those higher-level criminals who are controlling these urchins".

Mr Richardson said police needed support from people in the community who had to provide information without fear of being labelled as a "grass".

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