Officers working around the clock to investigate a violent drug dispute in the county are reminding friends and relatives of those involved of the potentially devastating consequences of not reporting concerns.
Police have so far arrested 18 people and charged two men in connection with what they believe to be linked incidents including stabbings in Gloucester Park and St Aldate Street in Gloucester and in a nightclub in Regent Street in Cheltenham.
In the Gloucester Park incident on Tuesday 1 August stabbing a 24-year-old man suffered a serious knife wound following a fight and in the St Aldate Street stabbing in the early hours of Sunday 13 August a 23-year-old man suffered life threatening injuries. Both have since been discharged from hospital.
Then in the early hours of Sunday 17 September a 36-year-old Gloucester man was stabbed several times in the leg inside MooMoo nightclub in Cheltenham. He is also now recovering at home.
There have also been disturbances in Calton Road on Tuesday 29 August and Furlong Road in Gloucester on Saturday 30 September.
Detectives say they believe they have identified many of the people involved in the feud despite a wall of silence but that without people coming forward the risk of further casualties, even fatalities, remains high.
A comprehensive operation has been put in place to use every option to reduce the risk of further violence and bring those involved to justice.
As well as arrests in connection with the incidents, officers are also pursuing other offences against those they believe are involved. They have issued ‘cease and desist’ notices to suspects warning them police believe they are involved in the violence and have set up specialist patrols in Gloucester Park to disrupt criminal activity while enquiries continue. Civil action such as gang injunctions also haven’t been ruled out in an attempt to reduce the risk of harm.
Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mackay said: “It’s been good fortune so far that we haven’t seen a homicide from these recent incidents and we’re doing everything we possibly can to stop one happening.
“Unfortunately the use of serious violence often goes hand in hand with drug crime and when a feud escalates it is extremely challenging to put a stop to it before someone gets badly hurt, especially when few people, including those hurt, want to talk to police.
“This is where the families and friends of those involved can be absolutely critical. It is everyone’s responsibility to report concerns or risks to us. If a meeting or event of some kind is about to happen where there’s a potential for violence we need to know.
“If someone you know picks up a knife or another weapon the chances of violence increases hugely.
“We have seen with previous investigations often people are only willing to talk to us when someone has lost a life. Please don’t wait for that to happen.
“We have all seen the devastating consequences of knife crime. Don’t let your loved one become another victim.
“We are absolutely determined to bring these people to court and are doing everything we can to reduce the risk but please remember we cannot be everywhere all the time and it only takes a second for a fatal stab wound to be inflicted.”
Anyone with information on the drugs feud should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.