Olivia Pratt-Korbel's neighbours go to shops in makeshift bulletproof vests
Residents in the community where Olivia Pratt-Korbel was murdered are so frightened of gun crime that some have even started wearing makeshift bullet-proof vests to go to the shops.
A deadly arms race across Merseyside has seen feuding gangs resorting to military grade weapons as they vie for superiority and territory in the lucrative drugs trade.
Nine-year-old Olivia was gunned down in her home by a stray bullet fired by gangster Thomas Cashman as he recklessly pursued a rival on August 22 last year, 15 years to the day since 11 year old Rhys Jones was shot and killed while walking home from football practice in Croxteth.
The strength of feeling in Merseyside about Olivia's death led to the trial being moved out of Liverpool to Manchester, after Cashman's lawyers claimed the reporting of the incident meant he may not have received a fair trial if it had been held in the city.
But the shooting that killed Olivia was just one of 49 on the streets of Liverpool in 2022, with five of the incidents resulting in fatalities.
The rise in the number of innocent people being caught up in the crossfire has resulted in some people taking drastic action.
One resident of Dovecot, where Olivia lived, said: “They nearly hit my husband in the head when they were shooting the other day. It hasn’t been better since Olivia.
“They are still shooting randomly. It’s not only happening in their world anymore it’s hard working people who are getting caught.
“I wear a helmet sometimes and a vest that my husband made me. Going to the shops is dangerous. They don’t care and neither do the police.”
Asked why Liverpool was seeing a rise in the number of innocent people being caught in the crossfire, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen, head of investigations at Merseyside Police, said weaponry was changing.
He added: “We had 49 discharges last year, five of those were homicides. When we look at the other 44 – they were injury discharges and damage to property. Anyone of those could have resulted in another homicide.
“We had people firing at cars driving past, putting bullets through windows or people’s front doors - anyone could be behind.
“That’s just the madness and complete lack of moral compass these people have we are dealing with. The other factor is some of the weaponry is changing.”
Mr Kameen said Czech-manufactured Skorpion machine pistols had been used by criminals in the UK over the past two years.
The weapons are capable of discharging 850 rounds a minute.
He continued: “If you start bringing that sort of battlefield military weaponry into communities and discharging it... You add that to the chaotic nature, lack of training, no moral compass, that’s where you get now the last three times a Skorpion has been used in Merseyside someone’s been killed every single time.
“Is it any wonder when this gun’s firing 12 or 13 rounds in less than a second?”
Neither of the firearms used in the shooting of Olivia, a glock pistol and a 0.38 calibre revolver, have yet been recovered.