'Crimestoppers zone' targets three areas devastated by gang culture

A young girl lays a tribute in Kingsheath Avenue, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was fatally shot
A young girl lays a tribute in Kingsheath Avenue, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was fatally shot -Credit:Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A charity which encourages people to report crime anonymously has set up a new initiative in the community where Olivia Pratt-Korbel was murdered.

Crimestoppers - an independent charity that allows people to discreetly pass over information about crime or criminals - has launched the new initiative in the Dovecot, Yew Tree and Huyton areas of Merseyside. The new initiative means the area has been designated as a Crimestoppers zone, the first of its kind in the North West.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "Information from the community is vital in reducing crime in the area with Crimestoppers – as a respected, independent charity - being a safe way to pass on what you know 100% anonymously." Crimestoppers said last year on Merseyside it received over 9,500 pieces of information on crime, which led to arrests, seizures of weapons and drugs and vulnerable people safeguarded.

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This placed Merseyside in the top three areas of the country per population for giving reports to Crimestoppers. The initiative - which will follow Merseyside Police's Clear, Hold, Build work in the community - will see the charity carry out targeted social media activity and leaflet drops to engage with young people and increase reporting of crime.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel was just nine when she was murdered in her Dovecot home by gun-toting thug Thomas Cashman. Cashman fatally shot Olivia and injured her mum Cheryl Korbel as he chased a fellow drug dealer into their house on the evening of August 22, 2022. Cashman, now 35, cowardly refused to go into the dock to learn his sentencing fate and was jailed for a minimum of 42 years in prison.

During the hunt for Cashman, police said "silence was not an option" and condemned local criminals who may have been protecting him or failing to help police. The ECHO also helped led the push for the city to unite to find the killer, running a front page which said: "Whose side are you on?" and a video which featured celebrities calling for people to come forward with information.

Merseyside Police later told the ECHO the murder "crossed a line" and resulted in hardened criminals breaking the rules of the "no grass culture" mantra. Senior investigating officer, temporary Assistant Chief Constable Mark Kameen, said the senselessness of a nine-year-old being shot in her own home resulted in a huge amount of public information. The court heard more than 800 "intelligence logs" were received during the course of their inquiries.

Chief Inspector Tony Fairhurst, of Merseyside Police, said: "Everyone involved in our Clear, Hold, Build projects, known locally as EVOLVE, is committed to making the communities that have been identified as being blighted by serious and organised crime safer places to live, work and visit. Since the launch of EVOLVE Liverpool-Knowsley last January, the EVOLVE partnership has made considerable progress in helping to reduce crime in the area.

"Among the successes include more than 670 arrests, over 1,600 stop searches carried out and some offenders handed very significant sentences as we continue our work to disrupt and deter those prepared to engage in criminal activity, which is clearly not acceptable. However, we cannot do this alone and we rely on the public to give us information, no matter how small, to help us build our intelligence pictures so we can take action and take criminals off our streets or work with our partners to ensure vulnerable people are referred to the services they need to help protect them from those looking to exploit them for criminal gain.

"As our campaign ‘Silence is Not an Option’ says, we need the public to speak out if we are going to make the greatest difference and I urge anyone with information about those suspected to be involved in criminal activity to contact Crimestoppers anonymously if they do not wish to contact us directly so we can make our communities safer for generations to come."

Gary Murray, Crimestoppers North West regional manager, added: "We are delighted to launch this initiative in the EVOLVE area, which has unfortunately recently seen the devastating effects of serious and organised crime. Working alongside the residents, elected representatives, community groups, housing providers and the police, we are making it more difficult for criminals to carry out their activities and making it easier for the community to give information on their wrong-doings.

"Every piece of information given to Crimestoppers is vital in building the intelligence picture of those who are bringing drugs and weapons into the area, those who are grooming and exploiting young and vulnerable people and in helping to save lives. In over 35 years since we started, we have never revealed the identity of anyone who has contacted us by phone or online - you will always remain anonymous."

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