SEVEN people have been arrested in nearby Kirkby after morning raids to tackle gun and drug crime as part of major operation targeting suspected gang members.

Five men and two women from Kirkby have been arrested after warrants were carried out this morning, Tuesday, December 3 in Westvale and one in Tower Hill.

As well as the arrests, officers seized £2,000 cash from the property in Tower Hill.

Searches are ongoing at all the properties this morning. Officers will be looking to seize any items at the addresses, which are believed to have been bought with money made through criminal enterprise and they will be accompanied by police approved asset recovery teams, who will deal with any such items under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

During the course of the five month investigation detectives have seized three firearms; five hand grenades; 20 rounds of ammunition, 10 kilos of Class A drugs and £34,000 in cash.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley said: “The action taken by officers this morning is the culmination of a five-month operation targeting those involved in serious and organised crime in Kirkby.

"The investigation was put in place after members of the public raised concerns about drug dealing in their communities. Sadly, sometimes those involved in the supply and distribution of drugs will resort to using firearms to protect their illegal trade, or to resolve petty disputes. During this investigation detectives have already recovered three firearms and five hand grenades, which we have no doubt would have been used to create an environment of fear and intimidation.

He added: "I would like to reassure the public that we are relentless in our pursuit of those involved in serious and organised crime and we are committed to making our streets safer for our communities.

"No-one should have to put up with drug dealing, and the associated crime it brings. We will work together with our communities to improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods and make our communities stronger."

“In the last five months detectives have been busy working behind the scenes to plan for this activity and today's operation is testimony to the force's commitment - with the support of the public and partner agencies - to tackling gun crime in Merseyside.

"As part of this operation we also recovered a substantial quantity of Class A drugs and more than £30,000 in cash, which we believe is profit from criminal activity involving drug supply and distribution.

"These arrests send out a clear message to those involved in gun crime - we will not let anyone create fear in our communities, and put members of the public at risk, through the possession and use of firearms blights our communities.

"I can reassure the public that we will keep up the pressure on offenders involved in serious organised crime and will pursue them relentlessly and put them before the courts to make our streets safer.

"The action we have taken today has been made possible thanks to members of the public who have taken a stand and given us information and I would appeal to anyone who has information about those involved in gun crime, or where guns are being stored, to contact us. We will act on all information about gun crime offences to make our streets safer for our communities."

Anyone with information about serious and organised crime can contact the force social media desk @MerPolCC, or by calling us on 101.

You can also report crimes anonymously via @CrimestoppersUK or by calling 0800 555 111.