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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 08:26 GMT
Armed police patrols withdrawn
Armed police patrol the streets of Bristol
The armed patrols have had a mixed reaction
High-profile armed police patrols in inner-city areas of Bristol have been withdrawn.

Police armed with machine guns have been on duty in the Easton and St Pauls areas of the city since mid-January.

The patrols were in response to fears of a turf war between two gangs of drug dealers thought to be armed and willing to use violence against each other.

Now police say the threat of violence has lessened.

Chief Inspector Mike Veale
Chief Inspector Mike Veale: "The situation will be reviewed daily."

Residents from Easton met with senior officers to discuss the patrols and what else could be done to make the inner-city area safer.

The police announced the armed patrols would be cut but promised they were not turning their backs on the people of the area.

Chief Inspector Mike Veale said: "I am retaining a right to make operational decisions on a daily basis, based on the threat assessments we receive.

"Unarmed officers patrolling the streets will have the prerequisite protection and support they need."

The recent problems began when members of the Aggi crew arrived back in the city after they were released from jail to discover a rival yardie gang had taken over the area.

The police were concerned members of the public could get caught in the crossfire should the feud descend into violence.

Gang deterrent

More than 50 people have been arrested for various immigration and drugs offences since the operation began.

Many residents welcomed the armed patrols, saying they had made a big difference.

Shopkeeper Martin Cummins said: "Recently it has been much better because of the police presence in the area. In the past it has been pretty dangerous."

Councillor John Astley said the presence of armed police had been a deterrent to the gangs, but said he supported the police's decision.

"If the police know the drugs gangs are gone, the police should do what they feel is right.

"We are 100% behind the police - having them in the area has been absolutely tremendous."

Some residents have said they are not happy to see guns on the streets of Bristol.


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

06 Feb 03 | England
03 Feb 03 | England
24 Jan 03 | England
23 Jan 03 | England
16 Jan 03 | England
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