The murder of an 11-year-old boy in a Liverpool suburb last year alerted the country to the city’s escalating gang culture. Rhys Jones was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of gang war. Ross goes in search of the youth gangs said to be causing mayhem on Liverpool’s streets and asks whether this year’s capital of culture deserves its reputation as a hub of gun and gang crime.

Ross comments: “Liverpool is a fantastic city and I fell in love with it. The story there relates to many inner-city areas in the UK. Because it’s in the UK, Liverpool is never going to have the extremes you find in other countries, and we’re very fortunate for that. But it’s an eye-opening film, the gang wars in Norris Green and Croxteth aren’t really based on anything, it’s just tit-for-tat violence and that’s sad. And it’s not just Liverpool that has these issues; it’s a growing problem in nearly every city across the UK”.

In August last year, news of the senseless killing of 11-year-old Rhys Jones sent shock waves throughout the country. Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as a “heinous crime that shocked the whole of the country”.

The root of the murder lies in the turf wars between two gangs who share the same postcode – Liverpool 11. The feuding between gangs from Norris Green (Nogga Dogz) and Croxteth (Croccy Crew), two suburbs in the north of the city extends back several years. Most of the youngsters involved went to the same senior schools as each other in the area. In the documentary one gang member clams that they can have a gun made available to them in less than 5 minutes.

Ross comments: “In Liverpool the lads were saying that they wouldn’t be in gangs if there was more for them to do when they were growing up. There were football pitches and slides and swings there, but they couldn’t cross the road to get to them because of the hatred from the gang on the other side of the road. That’s sad and that gets me angry. Because of the tit-for-tat violence, they’re actually excluding themselves”.

In this programme Ross Kemp meets some of the main players involved in the gang warfare and tries to understand what motivates their murderous hatred for one another. He meets an ex-gangster turned anti-gun campaigner and speaks to the police trying to combat the problem on the streets; a young man trying to leave the gang life behind; the mother of a teenager shot dead in an argument over a £200 debt and the person charged with sorting the whole problem out, Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.

Ross Kemp on Gangs: Liverpool: asks whether the city deserves its reputation for gang and gun violence and, seeks to discover what lies behind the code of silence that makes police work so difficult in the city, a code so strong that it is actually influencing the way police and the law operates in gang-related cases.

Ross Kemp on Gangs: Liverpool. Tue 6 Jan, 10pm, Sky1 and Sky1 HD.

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