'Gangbo' injunctions over Leeds criminal feud (9 Mar 2017)

G 11Seven men involved in a long-running feud that brought fear to the streets of a Leeds community have been hit with the city's first 'gangbo' injunctions.

A total of 94 offences between March 2014 and June 2016 were believed to be linked to the feud, with 87 of those occurring within roughly a square mile of Beeston - the most serious being the attempted murder of a man in a shooting in Middleton Crescent in October 2015.

The catalogue of crimes included ten violent incidents of robbery, assault and kidnap; 30 offences of public order, threats, intimidation and extortion; 24 offences of arson against vehicles and addresses causing more than £200,000 of damage; six drug-related offences where more than £180,000 was recovered; and 22 offences of criminal damage against properties, eight of which saw 4x4 vehicles rammed into the addresses causing more than £100,000 of damage.

In December 2014 and January 2015, officers from the local neighbourhood policing team launched an investigation into a number of vehicle fires in Beeston that were believed to be linked to an ongoing feud between known criminals.

After further 'tit for tat' incidents occurred and officers began to build up a clearer picture of the wider circumstances and those involved, the investigation passed to Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit to co-ordinate the response.

Specialist detectives from that team began to conduct comprehensive enquiries to develop a detailed understanding of the context of the incidents that had occurred and to link those to the main suspects.

While a number of arrests were made and charges brought in relation to some of the incidents, it became clear that a wider approach was needed to tackle the gang-related actions of those involved.

Steps were taken to build a case for gang injunctions - dubbed 'gangbos' - under the Policing and Crime Act 2009. The Act allows the police or local authority to apply to a county court or the High Court for a civil injunction against an individual who has been shown to be involved in gang-related violence or to have encouraged or assisted it.

The scale of the incidents concentrated in such a small area had impacted not just on police resources but on West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, who were consulted for the application along with Leeds City Council and Leeds Housing.

The Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson also lent his support to the application, highlighting how the incidents had impacted on the lives of people in Beeston and on police resources.

In December last year, full injunctions were granted against the seven men at Bradford County Court.

The orders include a number of conditions that place strict limitations on the subjects and can see them arrested for any breaches.

These include a ban from exclusion zones covering the Beeston area; restrictions on who they can associate with; requirements to register their home address and personal mobile phone numbers with the police; restrictions on only driving vehicles registered and insured to them; a ban on carrying any flammable liquid and on using threatening or violent behaviour and wilfully remaining in the company of people engaging in such.

Four of those that are subject of the orders are: Shafaqat Ali, aged 34, of Cross Flatts Avenue, Beeston; Haroon Butt, aged 28, of Cross Flatts Row, Beeston; Kamran Khan, aged 24, of Park View, Beeston; and Zubair Ali, aged 25, of Cross Flatts Avenue, Beeston. Three other men cannot be named due to legal reasons as two are the subject of ongoing court proceedings and another is yet to be served with the full injunction.

Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: "The scale and nature of this catalogue of crimes, concentrated in such a small area, caused understandable fear and concern among people living in that community.

"Over a significant period of time there was a string of tit-for-tat car arsons and vehicles being rammed into businesses and homes, many of which were rented to completely innocent people not linked this this feud whose safety was put at risk.

"This escalated to more serious offences, including an attempted murder in a shooting, and had the organised supply of drugs featuring in the background.

"It became clear that this was all part of a long-running dispute between known criminals and we needed to look to an innovative approach using relatively new legislation as part of our efforts to find a lasting long-term solution.

"The work of the Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, with support from their neighbourhood colleagues and a range of partner agencies, has secured the district's first gang injunctions.

"These orders place severe restrictions on the ringleaders of this feud and make them liable to arrest and potential imprisonment for any breaches. In publicising the details of those who are subject of the orders we hope the public will be able to assist us in enforcing their conditions by passing on any information they have, either directly to local officers or anonymously through Crimestoppers if necessary.

"The granting of these orders is part of our continuing strategy to disrupt these criminal elements and to avoid any repeat of the completely unacceptable scenes that the people of Beeston had to witness for too long.

"We hope this move will also send a clear message to others who think they can flout the law and cause fear in our communities without having to face the consequences. We simply will not tolerate this type of criminal behaviour and those involved in it should expect robust action from the police and our partner agencies."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "This mindless feud had a significant impact on innocent members of the wider community and was a considerable drain on policing and emergency services resources.

"I'm very pleased we have been able to secure these new types of injunctions and I will be watching their progress very closely and the impact they will have.

"These injunctions could not have been secured without the collaborative approach of our partners and this is another example of how crucial partnership working is in keeping West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe."

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council's executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: "Working closely with a range of partners including West Yorkshire Police, we are determined to tackle those individuals and groups whose unacceptable behaviour is having a negative impact on the day-to-day lives of residents living in our communities.

"As a city we will not hesitate to use all of the powers at our disposal, and it is positive news that through this approach, the council was able to add its support to the police securing an injunction against this gang involved in various criminality in and around the Beeston area."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2017