Lives lost on Yorkshire's streets as police reveal true extent of organised crime

Lives have been lost on Yorkshire's streets as a top police officer has revealed the true extent of organised crime groups operating across the county.

South Yorkshire Police's Operation Fortify is aimed at tackling serious organised crime.

Detective Inspector Jamie Henderson, is leading South Yorkshire Police's Operation Fortify, which is aimed at tackling serious organised crime on the streets of Sheffield.

So far this year, the team involved in Operation Fortify, which includes five sergeants and 40 police constables, have made 37 arrests.

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They have also seized 10 firearms, 30 knives, in excess of 3,000 cannabis plants, class A drugs and £150,000 in cash.

Det Insp Henderson said: "Within Sheffield the criminals involved in serious organised crime groups are home grown and have their own hierarchy.

"As soon as people disappear there other people step up to their shoes.

"We have got to disrupt them from committing their crimes and so far this operation is making a massive difference.

"We have got to make sure we up our game and protect people from what can be truly devastating consequences.

"Lives are being lost from wars over territory.

"We are doing a lot of work to bring people to justice and we have taken people off the streets as well as weapons and firearms and we are on the front foot to get these people."

Det Insp Henderson reveals how the criminals are targeting the most vulnerable in society for their own gains.

This can be in the form of child criminal exploitation, county lines drug dealing and cuckooing - a crime where drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use their base for drug dealing.

Det Insp Henderson said: "For us, serious organised crime is around three key areas. Firstly vulnerability and protecting the people who are at higher risk of exploitation, cuckooing and human trafficking; secondly prosperity and targeting those that are getting money from crime and money laundering; and thirdly commodity and that is doing our warrants and arresting people for various drugs and firearms offences."

The detective inspector believes one of the key tools to preventing serious organised crime is working with partner agencies. So far this year there have been 60 referrals to safeguard vulnerable children and adults across Sheffield.

He said: "Working together we are making Sheffield a hostile environment for criminals.

"Putting things into perspective Sheffield is one of the safest biggest cities and it doesn't have some of the problems other major cities have but that is only because we have been on the front foot and that has to continue."

The detective inspector's comments come as the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed serious and organised crime across Britain kills more people every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.

The agency launches its annual National Strategic Assessment (NSA) on Tuesday, which is expected to expose how organised criminals are exploiting advances in technology.

The NSA will show how organised criminals commit a multitude of crimes, dominate communities and chase profits using old-style violence as well as adopted new methods.

NCA director general Lynne Owens said: "People should understand that serious and organised crime kills more of our citizens every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.

"It is chronic and corrosive, and the message needs to be heard by everyone.

"Against a backdrop of globalisation, extremism and technological advances, serious and organised crime is changing fast and law enforcement needs significant new investment to help combat it.

"This is the most comprehensive assessment we have ever produced and describes in detail the growing and ever-changing nature of the threat posed by serious and organised crime - to individuals, to communities and to wider society."

The NSA draws on information and intelligence from sources across law enforcement, as well as many public and private sector organisations.

The launch will feature McMafia author Misha Glenny, who will chair a panel of speakers including Mrs Owens, National Police Chiefs Council lead for serious and organised crime and Merseyside Police chief constable Andy Cooke, and NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless.

According to the NCA, the event will reveal the changing nature of organised crime and its wholesale undermining of Britain's economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions.