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Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK


Gangster probe after DJ shooting

Police have set up a special operation to tackle the shootings

Radio 1 rap DJ Tim Westwood has left hospital under police escort after being wounded in a drive-by shooting.

The BBC's Jon Silverman: "London's violent summer may well continue"
The BBC star has been under police guard in St Thomas's Hospital in Lambeth, south London after being shot in his right arm on Sunday. A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on the car he was travelling in as it drove through Kennington, south London.

He underwent an operation to clean the wound and left the hospital about 7.15pm on Tuesday.

Westwood's assistant, Ross Newman, who was shot in the leg in the attack, left hospital earlier.

Meanwhile, media reports are linking the incident with a spate of recent shootings in the capital thought to be linked with Yardie gangsters.

[ image: Tim Westwood: Shot in the arm]
Tim Westwood: Shot in the arm
In the first six months of this year, 13 people have been murdered in London in feuds involving gangsters.

Yardies are criminals who come originally from Jamaica, and who have spawned many imitators amongst black British youth.

Omar Anderson, crime correspondent on the Jamaican daily paper, the Gleaner, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that many of those involved in a surge in gang-related murders in Jamaica were coming to Britain.

"If a man kills 10 people in Jamaica and he has a passport and money he can do the same."

The Metropolitan police have set up a special operation to try to tackle the shootings. They are planning a London-wide conference to get the support of community leaders.

Andy Hayman, head of Scotland Yard's drugs directorate, told the BBC: "We are working closely with the community and with them we can work together to tackle this despicable spate of crimes."

Commander Andy Hayman: "Despicable spate of crimes"
Mr Westwood is seen as a potential Yardie target because of his role as a pivotal figure in rap music in this country.

His highly influential Radio 1 show is one of the very few national showcases for the music, which has become enormously popular with black youngsters in the UK.

Feuds within the American rap world - particularly between bands and record labels based in the East and West coasts of the country - are thought to be at the core of attacks which claimed the lives of rap stars such as Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, also known as The Notorious BIG.

Gunned down

There are now fears that a dispute between Yardies in various parts of London over the control of lucrative drug markets could be the reason for the spate of shootings.

Gang warfare erupted on 6 March, when 36-year-old Jamaican-born Mervyn Sills was gunned down on a busy street in Brixton.

[ image: Laverne Forbes: Killed in front of daughter]
Laverne Forbes: Killed in front of daughter
In May Adrian Roberts was murdered at a bail hostel in Harlesden, and a few days later Laverne Forbes and Patrick Smith were killed in front of their seven-year-old daughter in Tottenham.

Other killings, such as the murder of Henry Lawes on 14 June in Harlesden, have been drive-by shootings, as was the attack on Westwood.

Mr Lawes, who was on foot, was hit by shots fired from a passing car containing five gangsters, but managed to run off down the street.

Two men jumped out of the car and gave chase. They caught Lawes when he tripped and fell, standing over him to pump bullets into his body.

Stop-and-search blamed

Earlier this month 20-year-old Dean Roberts died after being shot several times in an attack in Furness Road, Harlesden.

David Lidington: "We should be willing to look again at immigration controls"
Operation Trident, the police anti-Yardie initiative, has now compiled a list of more than 200 Jamaican-born criminals linked to gun crime in Britain.

Conservative home affairs spokesman David Lidington told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a reduction in stop-and-searches by police had led to a rise in street crime.

He said: "We should be willing to look again at immigration controls and maybe impose visa requirements on visitors from Jamaica."

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