Law Officers tour unit dedicated to tackling drug related violence
A pioneering unit which aims to help tackle gang-related violence in the West Midlands is helping community safety as the Attorney General Victoria Prentis KC MP discovered visiting Birmingham this week
L-R: Michael Tomlinson KC MP, Solicitor General; Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor; Mark Paul, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor; Victoria Prenits KC MP, Attorney General
The Attorney was joined by Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC MP as they met staff at CPS West Midlands, including those who run the Serious Violence, Organised Crime and Exploitation Unit.
The team, the first of its kind, was launched in the West Midlands in July 2021. The Unit brings together a team of prosecutors and paralegal staff who have extensive experience of prosecuting cases involving serious gang-related violence, serious drug dealing offences, including county lines, as well as modern slavery and exploitation.
Nearly two years on from its launch, the Law Officers heard from unit staff about their work helping to protect local communities.
Attorney General Victoria Prentis KC MP said:
"The level of violence in the cases the unit deals with is appalling and there is no doubt it is a blight on the communities affected.
"This is pioneering work and the expertise of the unit staff is clear. Two years after its opening, the Unit continues to secure strong conviction."
Since it launched, the unit has completed 43 cases, tried 140 defendants, and convicted 114. It currently has 134 charged matters involving 456 defendants.
The conviction rate stands at 79.7 per cent. Out of the 222 defendants prosecuted, 177 defendants resulted in successful convictions.
110 defendants have been prosecuted in total across different crime types, securing 92 convictions.
The Unit brings together a team of eight prosecutors and legal staff who have extensive experience of cases involving gang-related violence and street-level offending to share their expertise.
Douglas Mackay, CPS West Midlands Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, said:
"During the last year we have continued to prosecute some of the most devastating cases of serious violence that have impacted our communities.
"The experienced prosecutors in this unit continue to build strong cases to help crack down on county lines gangs, those who carry dangerous weapons on our streets and gang-related homicides."
“We hope in the coming year to continue our pioneering work to tackle serious violence across the country.”
Analysis shows that in serious violence cases involving gangs or organised criminality, drug dealing is frequently a root cause. This can often be disputes arising from county lines networks or forced labour in cannabis ‘factories’.
The Birmingham visit was part the Law Officers’ Law Tour. The Law Officers’ this week visited the Midlands, North and Wales, focusing on support for victims and local communities.