A FORMER St Helens police chief has been appointed the head of a specialist team that will fight serious and organised crime.
Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward will head the new Matrix Serious and Organised Crime team.
It will aim to build on the framework established by the Matrix team, which was established by Merseyside Police in 2005 to tackle gun and gang crime.
The team will bring together 1500 officers and support staff from the existing Matrix team, the force’s intelligence bureau, crime operations unit and operational support.
ACC Ward, who was Chief Superintendent in St Helens during 2003 and 2004, said: "Serious and organised crime can create a vicious downward spiral of fear, intimidation and economic decline in our neighbourhoods.
"It has a direct impact on our communities, whether it be through the drugs and violence that bring misery to our streets, the guns that can seriously injure or kill, cyber crime which can infiltrate people's homes, or the exploitation of our vulnerable members of the community, particularly children.
"In the last 10 years crime trends have changed significantly and we need to ensure that we move with the times so that we can effectively deal with those responsible for serious and organised crime on our streets.”
He said bringing teams together under one umbrella will provide a more resilient and sophisticated approach to tackling the threats of guns, drugs, hi-tech crime, child sexual exploitation and financial crime.
The team will also assist major crime investigations including murder and rape.
He added: “We are reliant on our communities if we are to make an impact on serious and organised crime and make our streets safer for future generations.
“Information from the public is key to our success, we need to work together and in truth the public is our biggest partner and they can help us to make a difference."