Threat to life warnings sent

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Police issued three ‘threat to life’ warnings in a year to people whose lives were believed to be in imminent danger.

A police report last month claimed there are more than 200 gangs in the county actively involved in a range of offences including serious violence, child abuse, human trafficking and drug dealing.

An Osman warning is issued when there is intelligence of a threat to someone’s life, but not enough evidence to justify the police arresting the possible offender

Police have explained what actions they take to protect someone whose life is at risk, including issuing the warnings, known as Osman warnings.

A Lancashire police spokesman said: “An Osman warning is issued when there is intelligence of a threat to someone’s life, but not enough evidence to justify the police arresting the possible offender.”

The Press Association sent a Freedom of Information request to every UK police force asking how many “threat-to-life” (or Osman) warnings had been issued since 2012.

Lancashire Constabulary said three Osman warnings were issued in 2014, compared with 13 in 2013 and eight in 2012.

The force spokesman continued: “Procedure dictates that the police force must then deliver a letter to the person who is at risk telling them that their life may be in immediate danger and that they should take precautions.

“We would then assess any threat and decide if we needed to then issue such a warning.

“We would then visit the person and explain the situation.

“The person’s address would be flagged in case there was a report of incident.”

Lancashire was dubbed an organised crime capital after figures were released in December from a national police database, mapping the UK’s 5,500 crime gangs, which have a combined estimated 37,000 members.

It showed Lancashire has a higher proportion of organised criminals than anywhere else in the country – including Liverpool and Manchester.

Although police in those cities have recorded a higher number of criminal networks, they make up a smaller percentage of the population.

Experts said the county acts as a ‘gateway’ for gangs in those North West crime hubs, as members pass through as they distribute drugs and weapons throughout the region. Lancashire Police said it was committed to tackling the problem, which it described as ‘hugely damaging’ to communities.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Our neighbourhood officers, local targeted crime units and serious organised crime unit all work together with local partners to identify and target those who cause the most harm to our neighbourhoods, be that through the dealing of drugs, firearms activity, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and cyber-crime.

“Critical to our success is our work with the regional organised crime unit, with whom we co-ordinate the development of intelligence together with determining how we pursue offenders and bring them to justice.”