Gang crime officer steps down

Drinkheads campaign. Superintendent Andy Barrs with the message sent to mobiles
Drinkheads campaign. Superintendent Andy Barrs with the message sent to mobiles

A SENIOR police officer responsible for tackling gun and gang crime in Sheffield has retired after 32 years in the force.

Chief Superintendent Andy Barrs, who was also Sheffield’s Deputy District Commander, began overseeing the way the county’s police force deals with gun and gang crime after 16-year-old Jonathan Matondo was shot dead in a playground in Burngreave in October 2007.

The teenager was a member of the S3 postcode gang. Within a year, two other gang members were also murdered.

Now South Yorkshire Police has a gang enforcement team that identifies and prosecutes offenders but also tries to prevent youngsters from becoming embroiled in gangs in the first place.

Chief Supt Barrs, aged 48, started his career with South Yorkshire Police as a cadet in 1979 and his first post was as a young bobby in Dinnington. He spent six years as a traffic officer and has worked in Barnsley and from Attercliffe as well as heading the force’s firearms support group.

In 2005 he was given responsibility for rolling out the Safer Neighbourhood Policing programme, which sees communities given their own policing team to respond to incidents and find long-term solutions to local issues.

“I have enjoyed it all and have seen a lot during my career – the miners’ strike and the Hillsborough disaster among them. But the most rewarding side of it has been working with communities,” he said.

“The guns and gang role evolved from the shooting of Jonathan Matondo in 2007. I was at a meeting close to where it happened, so when I was told about the death I went straight to the scene and got involved from there.”

lChief Constable to retire, page 8.