Leeds gun and knife crime: Police warning to criminals using weapons on city streets

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme

Criminals using guns and knives on the city’s streets will be caught and brought to justice.

That is the stark warning issued by a senior Leeds police officer following a week which has seen one man killed and two others seriously injured.

Investigations are continuing into the fatal shooting of Christopher Lewis in Chapeltown on Wednesday evening, a mass brawl that led to a stabbing in Holbeck on Thursday morning and a drive-by shooting in Armley during the early hours of yesterday.

They are among more than 10 gun and knife-related incidents to take place in Leeds during little more than a month, prompting mention to voice concerns about what is fuelling the violence.

Read more: Listed - Leeds firearms and knife crime in the past month

Superintendent Jo Morgan, of Leeds District Police, said: “We understand there will be public concern following the two targeted shootings in Leeds this week.

“I want to reassure residents that we treat all firearms incidents extremely seriously and that they will not be tolerated in Leeds or West Yorkshire.

“I also want to send a direct message to those involved in the use of firearms: you will be caught and you will more than likely serve a prison sentence.

"Those who illegally carry or conceal weapons are negative role models and need to be removed from our neighbourhoods.”

She said the latest incidents and those in July were being dealt with robustly and arrests had been made in relation to a number of them, including the murder of 24-year-old Mr Lewis.

Read more: Man remanded in custody on firearms charges over Harehills shooting

“The force has a dedicated Firearms Prevent Team – a specialist unit that investigates firearms discharges and does all it can to bring those responsible to justice,” Supt Morgan said.

“We take a proactive approach to removing firearms from the streets of West Yorkshire to ensure that the people who live, work and visit the county remain safe.

“Our neighbourhood policing teams are also very active in the communities carrying out reassurance work and we are liaising with community partners to inform them of the situation.”

Test purchase operations were carried out to identify shops illegally selling knives to children, while a county-wide weapons amnesty last autumn resulted in more than 200 guns, knives and swords being handed into police. They included a semi-automatic shotgun and three pump action shotguns.

The ongoing Leeds Lives Not Knives initiative is also continuing work begun then to teach young people in particular about the risks posed to themselves and others.

Read more: Leeds Lives Not Knives - City’s young people help to tackle knife crime

“Carrying a knife is never the answer,” Supt Morgan said. “The consequences of getting involved with a knife – either by carrying one or being associated with someone carrying one – can be tragic and deadly.”

Anyone concerned about criminality in their area is urged to speak to their local neighbourhood officers or call police on 101.

Information can also be passed on anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.