PCC joins officers in Netherton for third roll-out of Operation Evolve

Emily Spurrell joins officers for the phase three roll out of Clear, Hold, Build in Netherton

Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell joined officers in Netherton, and other partners, for the third roll out of Operation EVOLVE, Clear, Hold, Build. It's a strategy designed to tackle gangs and the misery they bring to communities and resulted in a number of arrests and the recovery of Class A and B drugs.

Designed and partly funded by the Home Office, EVOLVE will see Merseyside Police working together with partners and residents to disrupt and deter organised crime groups (OCG) and help stop neighbourhoods being exploited by these criminals.

Throughout the day, officers from targeted teams, county lines, dogs and mounted sections accompanied neighbourhood policing teams to carry out warrants and open land searches as the force continues its ongoing and relentless work to disrupt and clamp down on criminality.

As well as having police on the ground targeting serious crime, officers were walking the streets and talking to residents alongside officers from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Sefton Council and One Vision Housing who are assessing the area and planning work to improve the look of the neighbourhood.

During the launch (Wednesday 5 April), Merseyside Police made four arrests, executed two warrants, recovered two stolen vehicles and issued multiple road traffic offences.

Significant activity includes:

A warrant was executed at a house on Rochester Avenue in Bootle. Officers arrested a 22-year-old man and 34-year-old woman on suspicion of possession with intent to supply (PWITS) Class A and B drugs including crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Officers recovered several mobile phones, nitrous oxide cannisters, cannabis, cocaine and heroin from inside the property.

Following a further search at the 22-year-old’s address in Liverpool, another mobile phone was recovered alongside a Rolex watch. The 22-year-old man was further arrested on suspicion of possession of criminal property.

Officers executed a misuse of drugs warrant at a house on Chester Avenue in Bootle. During the search, wraps of brown powder were seized and a community resolution was issued to a 54-year-old woman.

A 40-year-old woman from Netherton was arrested for breach of a Court Order.

A 37-year-old woman from Bootle was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to bring/throw/covey a List A and B prohibited article in or out of prison.

Officers conducted an open land search at Bootle Golf Course and recovered shotgun cartridges.

During patrols, officers recovered a stolen grey BMW in the rear garden of a property in Netherton. Further patrols located and recovered a Lexmoto FMS 125 motorcycle.

A number of traffic offences were issued to drivers in the area.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “We must do everything possible to stop the organised crimes groups whose illegal activities blight communities, bring pain and suffering to families and destroy lives.

“Merseyside Police are recognised across the country for their relentless approach to tackling and disrupting these gangs. I am committed to supporting that work and ensuring they have the resources they need to bring perpetrators to justice and protect our communities.

“By launching EVOLVE today, we are showing our determination to work with our communities and partners to break the cycle of crime, helping to improve the lives of people in Netherton and make this area a safer, happier, healthier place.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy, who was at the launch of the project, said: “EVOLVE will make it harder for organised crime groups to operate and will help to protect those living, visiting and working in Sefton.

“We will be working closely with partners and residents and using all the powers available to us to stop the scourge of gangs in Netherton, as well as ensuring that their activity is not displaced into other areas in Sefton.

“We will be pursuing the gang members and looking closely at their families, their associates and those they try to exploit to do their dirty work. We will be cutting off their income streams and breaking their business and recruitment models.

“This is a long-term approach and by working together, robustly targeting gang-related activity and listening to residents’ needs, EVOLVE will improve areas affected by serious and organised crime and will allow residents to reclaim their communities.

“Our dedicated community teams are deeply committed to preventing crime and harm. They are focussed on tackling the causes of crime, building stronger communities with our partners and protecting vulnerable people.”

EVOLVE projects intend to take communities blighted by gang-related activity on a journey of regeneration, building long-term resilience against organised crime groups and help prevent future threats to safety.

They will see police relentlessly pursuing gang members using all available powers and tactics to clear an area; continue activity to hold the location, so another gang can’t take control; and then work with residents and partners to build the community into an area where people would love to live, work and visit and one less able to be exploited by gangs.

Partners will work closely to share information and identify hot spots that need transforming as well as using targeted activity to remove and disrupt organised crime groups. Partners will also provide advice and services, particularly to those who may struggle to access help.

Areas that will be focussed on by partners include: the living, working and recreational environment for residents, opportunities for young people, help with employment, assistance to access funding, health issues, crime prevention and security advice. Residents will be active in saying what improvements they would like to see and where.

Partners involved in EVOLVE projects include Merseyside Police, Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, local councils, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, housing associations, health services, schools, colleges, local businesses, community groups and residents.

Simon Burnett, Sefton Council’s Assistant Director of People, added: “We are very much aware of the harmful impact Serious Organised Crime has on our communities.

“We are keen to support Merseyside Police, work with partners and most importantly the Park Lane estate community in this new strategy to rid the area of the perpetrators of serious crime and help build a safer, stronger community and protect our most vulnerable residents.”

EVOLVE Netherton is the third Clear, Hold, Build project being ran in Merseyside. Merseyside Police was one of the first forces to pilot Clear, Hold, Build with a project in Wirral in January 2022 and was allocated a further £350,000 in funding from the Home Office last August to target serious and organised crime in Liverpool and Knowsley following the murders of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, 22-year-old Sam Rimmer and 28-year-old Ashley Dale last August.

MFRS Group Manager Franny Hill said: “In full support of the EVOLVE project, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) provided free Home Fire Safety Checks in the Netherton community today.

"Our crews and Prevention staff were testing fire alarms to ensure they were working correctly and provided fire safety advice to all we engaged with.

"MFRS staff are here to support and reassure our communities, every day of the year, to keep people safe from fire. By working with our partners, we can deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of Merseyside in the truest sense of community safety.”

Ian Mitchell, Managing Director for Housing from One Vision Housing said: “At One Vision Housing we are committed to providing safe and secure communities for our customers. By partnering with Merseyside Police to tackle anti-social behaviour in our neighbourhoods, we hope to improve the lives of our residents and make the areas in which they live better, too. Residents at Park Lane Estate in Netherton are the first to benefit from the EVOLVE project, which supports us in fulfilling our vision to create a better future for customers and communities.”