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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Police target gun gangs
Operation Ventara has led to several arrests already
Armed police officers will be moved to targeted locations in the West Midlands as part of a police operation to reduce gun crime.

The plan is part of Operation Ventara which focuses on armed robberies and gang-related shootings.

The deployment of officers was revealed by West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir Edward Crew on Wednesday.

It follows a rise in the number of incidents involving guns from 125 last year to more than 50 already this year.

'Significant impact'

Armed officers will be located in specific parts of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

No sane person can support the criminal use of firearms and even if it is a relative, you need to tell us about it

Sir Edward Crew

Sir Edward said: "Over recent months we have seen an increase in gun crime across the West Midlands and whilst this increase has not affected every community, the impact has been particularly significant in some.

"The overwhelming concern for Operation Ventara is the increase in the number of incidents where shootings involve people from black communities.

"These are occurring in areas where Afro Caribbean communities are living."

Operation Ventara was secretly put in place a few months ago and Sir Edward said that information and intelligence had already led to the arrest of several firearms users.

Witness appeal

He said: "Our ability to deal with any problem relies in the willingness of the community, regardless of their colour and background, in having confidence in the police to provide intelligence and information."

Sir Edward added: "The conurbation is at its best when it stands shoulder to shoulder with the police and says 'No'."

Sir Edward Crew
Sir Edward Crew wants people to come forward

He urged people across the West Midlands who have information about firearms or where they are hidden to come forward.

Sir Edward said: "No sane person can support the criminal use of firearms and even if it is a relative, you need to tell us about it.

"Let's stand together and remove this fear from our streets."

Last week, a man was shot in the stomach in Birmingham, making it the third shooting in the West Midlands in 36 hours.

The 24-year-old was shot in Leatherhead Close in Aston, near the city centre, last Wednesday.

In a separate incident the previous night, a man was shot dead in his car in West Bromwich.

The body of Martin Sylvester, 34, was found in his black BMW in the Hill Top area of West Bromwich, shortly before midnight last Tuesday.

Later that night a gunman fired at least 20 shots in Melrose Avenue in the Lozells area of Birmingham.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | UK
Third shooting in two days
09 Aug 01 | UK
Man shot in head in car
27 Jul 01 | UK
Man shot in face by gang
19 Jul 01 | UK
Woman struck in car-jacking
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