Today police are launching an appeal to women in Salford and beyond to come forward and help detectives figures out unsolved crimes.
New posters released today say: “Ladies, carrying a secret? Talk to us if your fella or son is involved in gang activity. Don’t be an accessory to their crime.”
Those aimed at younger girls ask them to come forward if they have a boyfriend or brother who may be involved in organised crime.
It’s the continuation of a principle first announced by police top brass almost exactly 12 months ago.
In a marked shift in policy Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe appealed directly to “mothers, sisters and daughters” to come forward to help detectives solve the horror shooting of 7-year-old Christian Hickey and his mum Jayne Hickey in Winton.
At the time, she said: “I am appealing to all the mothers, grandmothers, aunties and sisters of children in Salford to search your conscience.
“As a mother myself I can begin to imagine the pain and anguish his mother is going through; no one imagines that their little boy will be shot as they answer the door.”
The shooting was linked to a violent feud between two organised crime gangs based in Salford and Swinton.
In July 2016 two men, Aldaire Warmington, 29, and Christopher Hall, 46, of Oldwells Close in Little Hulton were jailed for trafficking the gun used in the Winton shooting.
A court was told that police pulled over a car in the Mobberley area of Cheshire on 15 December 2015.
Officers discovered a Heckler and Koch semi-automatic 9mm handgun and a Baikal replica pistol hidden in a plastic bag with three teddy bears inside.
It’s believed that when the pair were stopped, Hall was in the process of moving the firearm to pass it on to another organised crime group in Salford.
Police believe the Heckler and Koch and Baikal, which had been converted to fire 9mm bullets, had been used in at least 10 shootings in the North West, including seven shootings in Liverpool between 2011 and 2014.
Speaking at the campaign launch today was Pat Erdmann, mother of doorman Lee Erdmann who was shot and killed in front of 30 eyewitnesses while drinking in The Wellington pub on Regent Road in 2011.
Her 37-year-old son was approached by an unidentified man who had been talking to him earlier in the evening.
He was shot twice in the back with a handgun and died instantly at the scene.
The pub’s CCTV was stolen shortly after the killing and the murder weapon was never found.
A graffiti campaign in Ordsall warned locals about speaking out over the slaying.
Despite a Crimewatch appeal and £50,000 reward for information, police have been unable to get past a ‘wall of silence’ in the Ordsall community.
Sources told how Lee’s killer threatened 30 eyewitnesses with being shot if they talked to police.
Four years on: ‘Coward murderer’ must be brought to justice
Lee’s brother Mike Erdmann told SalfordOnline.com on the four-year anniversary of his death: “Anybody who knew Lee knew he was a good man with a big heart who loved his five children and family to bits.
“We just hope one day someone stands up and brings us justice and stops the coward thinking he is some kind of hero.”
Six people were arrested and bailed in the aftermath of the shooting, but no-one has ever been charged.
“Since this happened gun crime in Salford has gone really bad,” said Mike, “because you have people thinking if that coward can get away with shooting my brother in the back in front of all those people they can also get away with shooting people.
Greater Manchester Police said today that gun crime had fallen by a quarter in the last year and pointed to a firearms amnesty in which 110 weapons were handed in to officers.
Police also arrested and charged eight men over a series of tit-for-tat gang shootings in Little Hulton earlier this week.
Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Ford said: “We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years and have seen significant reductions in gun crime, which we couldn’t have done without the help of the community who, like us, want to see safer streets.
“However, one shooting is one too many and there is more work to be done to eradicate gun crime from our neighbourhoods.
“We’ve already seen innocent bystanders caught up in the crossfire of gang-related feuds and we will continue to work with people and partner organisations to stop these criminals causing fear and harm within our communities.
“If you know somebody who carries a gun, please do the right thing and tell us about it. By not saying anything to anyone, you’re not stopping it from being used and the last thing we want is to be knocking on your door to tell you that your loved one has been killed in a shooting.
To pass on information, please call Greater Manchester Police on 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.