UK & World News
Ex-Gangster's Manchester Gun Crime Warning
A former gang member has warned the recession could lead to an increase in gun crime on the streets of Britain.
Warren Williams, 46, was a member of a gang in Moss Side, Manchester, in the 1990s before being jailed for drugs and firearms offences.
"The climate's kind of gone back to the way it was," he warned.
"When gangs really took off in Manchester there was a recession then, and there's a recession now and I think the same mentality, the same ingredients are there now."
Now a youth worker and mentor with Manchester's Community Change Foundation, he says social deprivation can lead youngsters into gangs where they gain what he called "a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose".
The crime wave of the 1980s and 1990s which led to Manchester being dubbed "Gunchester" was widely linked to drugs and deprivation.
In 1996 alone, 16 people were shot in Manchester and four of them died.
The police responded with new methods including working with other agencies to tackle underlying problems and improving community relations.
Matt Gallagher, a front-line inspector with Greater Manchester Police in the 1990s, said gun crime was brought under control by engaging with the people it affected.
"The initial response was high-profile policing and trying to target the various key ringleaders," he recalled.
"But eventually it was found that there was much more to be had from engaging with the community. We began to get a flow of information back from the people who were affected and that eventually led to success."
The murder of student Anuj Bidve, in Ordsall Lane, Salford, on Boxing Day last year, was a stark reminder that gun crime in deprived areas of Manchester is still a reality.
It was said that Kiaran Stapleton, the 19-year-old who shot him in the head, wanted nothing more than status - closely linked to the sense of belonging and purpose that Warren Williams sees would-be gang members striving for.
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