BBC Panorama: Gangs, Guns and the Police… Are we safe in Salford?

In a BBC1 special shown on February 8, Panorama looked into the scandalous Salford shootings, gang attacks and police force’s attempt to stop these violent crimes.

As a new resident of Salford, I watched this programme attentively with all eyes and ears to discover the reality of the place I formerly knew as the glorified home of MediaCityUK.

“When young kids are getting shot at 7 years of age, some people can’t believe what’s actually happened”. – Member of the public in Salford.

This shocking quote was one of the first things heard in the programme which almost immediately puts doubt into your head.

It’s not to disregard that almost everywhere in the UK has suffered crimes of gun violence, its almost unavoidable in the generation we live in today.

However, finding the truth of what actually happens on a day to day basis the the exact place you live is something that’s quite disturbing.

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Panorama speaks to a women who’s son, Lee Erdmann, got mixed up with a gang and sadly was murdered.

Lee Erdmann was sadly murdered back in 2011 during an incident with a gang. Lee’s mother told Panorama that “Everybody in Salford knows who killed Lee” but the 2011 murder is still unsolved.

Police call it a wall of silence’ as the 30 witnesses who were there at the scene of the crime, live in fear of giving evidence against a gang member.

“Gang’s are a part of life in Salford. Police don’t control the streets”.

Panorama also looks into the notorious Paul Massey, a Salford resident once known as “Salford’s Mr Big” – but not always for the best of reasons.

He was a convicted criminal, having been sentenced to 14 years in jail back in 1999.

Paul was once filmed in the 1990’s for a BBC documentary however it was never broadcast as he stabbed a man during the period of filming.

Massey was said to have lead a ‘firm’ which one of its former members, Jason Coghlan, spoke to Panorama. His admiration for Paul was clear and Jason claimed that Paul “helped 10 more people than he ever hurt”.

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But others saw the late Paul Massey in a totally different light and named him as a “nasty villain” who deserved to be in prison.

Despite his debatable nature, Paul wanted Salford to elect him as mayor of the City in 2012.

Paul Massey said that if elected he wanted to “help the elderly, youth, reduce crime and drug problems in Salford”.

With near enough 2,000 people voting for him, it is questionable if people were looking to him to do what the police couldn’t and keep the peace in Salford.

It’s not just gun violence that’s disrupting the streets of Salford, Panorama warns viewers how machetes, chainsaws, firearms and grenades are also a huge danger to the area.

The programme also focuses on the ‘A-Team’ who are said by one of its members to probably be “the most powerful gang ever up here” which is due to his vast number of members and their loyalty to one another.

However, it’s reported that in July 2014, the A-Team split into two opposing gangs which merely tested their “loyalty”.

The war between the two because very bitter and very quickly escalating to violence as a women had her car roof cut off by masked men using a chainsaw.

The A-Team are also reported to have been connected with the murder of Paul Massey, who ‘predicted his own death’.

But it seems as though the biggest worry for Salford residents is the lack of co-operation the police have and what they are actually doing to keep us safe.

Graham Stringer, MP in Salford since 1997, believes that the police need to do more and says that “the police have let the violence get out of control”. 

However when Panorama speaks to a policewoman about these issues, she aims to reassure and inform on how the police are dealing with the gang crimes and says they have a “well thought through and planned way to respond”.

But with many of the crimes featured in this Panorama special still unsolved, is this one speech by a police offer really enough to keep the people of Salford feeling safe and sound?

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Facts about crime in Salford from BBC’S Panorama: 

  • 25 organised crime groups.
  • 19 shootings in past 12 months.
  • 30 children in Salford live in households where a family member is at risk of being murdered or murdering someone.
  • The traditional crime for Salford criminals was armed robbery.
  • A grenade thrown out of a window and into a drug dealers home.
  • Man shot dead by a machine gun on the driveway of his home.
  • Gang shot mother and 7 year old son on doorstep.
  • Since Paul Massey’s murder in 2009, there have been 7 attempted murders in Salford.
  • Greater Manchester police have made roughly 170 arrest’s in the last 12 months in Salford, recovered 18 firearms and taken out 13 civil injunctions against people involved in organised crime.

By Phoebe Jobling.

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