'People in this county are scared' senior Northamptonshire police officer unapologetic about cracking down on gang violence

Superintendent Chris Hillery at Friday's event in Northampton
Superintendent Chris Hillery at Friday's event in Northampton

A police superintendent has acknowledged that a series of stabbings in Northampton has left ordinary people fearful.

Superintendent Chris Hillery said people had become scared after an increase in violent attacks in Northampton and the wider county.

The officer was present at a Northampton event aimed at persuading teenage gang members to change paths where they were given plenty of motivation to change their ways.

But Supt Hillery was unapologetic for also delivering a tougher message - that he would do everything in his power to stop them and protect the public.

He said: "People in this county are scared and my role is to protect them.

"We have role of enforcement and people want to feel safe.

"One of our core roles is to protect and some of that is about taking control back.

"If you are a member of a gang, we'll come through your door."

He added: "We will use every power at our disposal, every available piece of legislation to bring gang members to justice.

I will be direct to active gang members that this police force targets family members, associates, assets, work places, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners and children, if that’s what it takes to fight crime and protect
members of this community."

"This, today (CIRV) is a new tactic, one that has been successful in other areas and one that I support.

"But I am police officer, I will not lose sleep after smashing through your door, seizing your property, putting your
children into protective custody, waking your mum up, arresting your dad for harbouring you, or closing the cell door as you weep, which is a lonely place."

Supt Hillery said victims and criminals in gangs are increasingly young people land likened their recruitment to child grooming.

He said: "The thing that surprises me is the youth of the victims and perpetrators.

"What we are seeing now is young people getting groomed into gangs. That can be supplying class A drugs to carrying weapons.

"They have all the characteristics of grooming we used to associate with child sexual exploitation.

"It starts with delivering something for a favour. Before they know it, they are carrying packages for a bit of money, hiding weapons."

Supt Hillery said the types of gang crime he and his team are coming across in Northampton are now similar to the issues facing the UK's biggest cities - with young people increasingly at the centre of it.

He said: "The reality is this isn't a sleepy market town people believe it to be. You have issues you will see in London and Glasgow.

"It's on our doorstep. It's not just something that happens in London anymore."

Another stark message from Supt Hillery for the teens was that, although young people are attracted to gangs by a sense of belonging, members never stand by them once they get into trouble.

He said: "Organised gangs are businesses and they are looking at their next recruit. These young people are not special to them. If you lock them up, they will replace them within hours. That's their business model.

This message was echoed by A&E Doctor Ghazzali Ahmad, of Northampton General Hospital, who was also present at Friday's event, telling the assembled teenagers from Northampton it is likely they will be stabbed at some point then abandoned.

He said: "All those people I see with life-threatening injuries, they're coming alone.

"When crunch time happens, they bail on you, Only the police and emergency services care.

"If you go down this route, it never ends well.

"The stylised gang violence, it ends in A&E. I've seen too many young people die."