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spokenword73
Sep 17th, 2003, 02:56 PM
(Not sure if this has been posted, but it says gangs are not just an LA problem.)

A top police officer has warned that violent drug gangs are spreading across the whole country, threatening what were once sleepy villages and family suburbs.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles warned that Yardie-style gangs posed the biggest potential threat to policing in the UK after terrorism.

Mr Coles, head of Operation Trident, which probes black-on-black shootings, warned that the gangs had spread as far from London as Aberdeen and were even targeting villages in Somerset.

"The Jamaican criminals are entrepreneurs. They will go anywhere where there is a ready market," he said.

"Then there is the potential for conflict and shootings. The threat is that we are going to see it all over the place. It is spreading."

He added: "It has moved out of London to all the home counties. Next to terrorism, this is the biggest challenge facing police in London, and potentially the rest of the country."

Operation Trident was set up by the Metropolitan Police in March 1998 as a London initiative to tackle gun crime in black communities. But Trident officers have taken up operations beyond the capital, including in Sussex and East Anglia.

Mr Coles stressed that the problem of drug gangs - once seen as the scourge of inner cities, mainly London - was now a "big issue" for the "white middle classes".

"There has been an attitude in society that this is a black problem," he said.

"It is not just a problem for the black community. They get cross because they feel demonised.

"I need to get the white middle classes to understand that this is a big issue that they need to take an interest in."

According to the report, a database of 500 criminals involved in the crack cocaine trade has been established by Trident officers.

The major players are Jamaicans, accounting for 40 per cent of the crimes, while the others are British born, mainly black, criminals.

In London, the operation has had a degree of success, with the clear-up rate for murders rising to 70 per cent this year from 20 per cent in previous years.

Latest available police figures show that as of January 2002, 200 suspects had been arrested and charged, 130 guns had been seized and 500 kilos of class A drugs had been impounded.

Such police successes may explain why the gangs are moving away from London.