Street Gangs to Organised Crime – by Des O’Brien, Region 6

Contribution by Des O’Brien, Region 6

Tuesday 11th September 6am, on the 17th anniversary of the 911 terrorist attack, my wonderful wife of 30 years was my pilot on the M50.

The journey to the Airport was uneventful. Our chief of staff for this my second IPA Trip after 38 years membership was Eleanor. She had warned us to be on time so as the youngest of 8 with 6 older sisters I know to take the warning of a woman seriously. Laura (my colleague from Command & Control) and I had a coffee before Eleanor arrived with Gavin, Sue and Máire.

The queue had already formed for the Ryanair flight to the Midlands airport when we arrived at the gate. We sat back and relaxed and let the masses panic for a seat that they had been already allocated. The 15 euro flight was uneventful until the landing. I would safely say that it was the fastest I have ever travelled on terra firma – thank goodness for Edgar Purnell Hooley and Mac Alpine’s fusiliers that we had plenty of runway to spare. As Laura released her iron grip on my arm we all started to breathe a sigh of relief as we taxied in to the apron.

We took the bus to Leicester City where we had a leisurely breakfast and had free time to explore the city. Leicester is a historic city and has been in the news in recent years after the remains of Richard the 3rd were discovered in a local car park and re- interred in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 some 530 years after his death on the battlefield.

Some of us went on to help the British retail economy while the rest of us wandered the streets of this one of the oldest cities in Britain. It wasn’t long until thirst got the better of us and we spotted a charming spot called the “GADABOUT” established circa 1685. It was a few meters from the Cathedral so in with us. It was a charming pub and we settled in. The owner of the Bar informed me that the Pub originally started out as a Women’s Prison and
latterly a Brothel!

Three loud knocks came knocking on the door and in walked 3 young men as toned as thoroughbreds and as clean as Mormons. The ladies eyes widened as the lads pulled in their bellies. We heard the American accents and were fairly sure that these were our guest speakers from Oregon. Shortly afterwards the English hosts arrived. We all settled in and chatted as if we had known each other for years. After a couple of drinks Gavin and I headed for our hotel while the ladies lingered a little longer. They were rewarded by a chance meeting with “Gazza” of English soccer fame. He was very affable and took time to have photos with the ladies.

We had dinner that evening with IPA colleagues from Europe and America and had an early night as we had an early start the following day.

Arriving at Police Headquarters Leicestershire the following morning we registered and had coffee.

The seminar was opened by Vice President Section UK Clive Wood. Our first part of the seminar was given by our American colleagues from the Gang Enforcement Unit Portland Oregon USA. It was very similar to street gang culture here albeit with a lot easier access to weaponry. That was followed by Dr Matt Hopkins insight into “What is a Gang”.

We then were given an insightful presentation from The Gang Masters and Labour Abuse Authority where we learned that there are now more slaves in Britain today that there was before the abolishment of slavery in 1833. The modern slaves can be found washing and valeting our cars, cutting/styling our hair, cleaning our homes and of course the sex trade to name just a few areas of “employment”.

After lunch was provided by our hosts we had a presentation by retired police officer Mark Bullen on Russian-speaking organised crime gangs their Prison Tattoos. It was an insightful presentation about the Gang structure and rank system and how much can be gleaned from their tattoos regarding status, time spent in prison, crimes committed and number of prisons they were in.

The next presentation was on Prevention and Diversion it was given by a former gang member turned Police officer Detective Sgt Martyn Linton. He was lucky enough as a teenager to meet a local Bobby who had a huge part in turning his life around by just having a chat on the street with him. He stated that a lot of his old gang members are now either no longer with us or have been or still are incarcerated.

Our last presentation was from Jermaine Lawlor from Voice for Youth against Violence who work to steer young people away from the gang culture.

It was a well organised and insightful seminar. We were afforded a great British “Céad Míle Fáilte” and we left a lot more enlightened than when we arrived. Well done to all concerned.

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