|Gun crime doubles in a decade
Gun crime has almost doubled in the last decade despite high profile Government campaigns to tackle the problem.
Telegraph | October 27, 2009
Offences involving firearms have increased in all but four police areas in England and Wales since 1998, figures obtained by the Tories reveal.
One part of the country has seen the problem increase almost seven fold as the availability of guns, and criminals' williness to use them rises.
The number of people injured or killed by a gun has also doubled under Labour.
It emerged last week that armed police are to carry out regular street patrols for the first time to help combat gun crime in London.
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: "These figures are all the more alarming given that it is only a week since the Metropolitan Police said it was increasing regular armed patrols in some areas of the capital.
"In areas dominated by gang culture, we're now seeing guns used to settle scores between rivals as well as turf wars between rival drug dealers. We need to redouble our efforts to deal with the challenge."
There were 9,865 firearm offences in 2007/08, a rise of 89 per cent on the 5,209 recorded in 1998/99.
Lancashire Police saw a 598 per cent increase from just 50 to 349 over the period while Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Essex all saw five fold increases.
In total, 21 forces saw offences at least double over the decade while just four, Cleveland, Humberside, Cambridgeshire and Sussex, saw the number fall.
While provisional figures for 2008/09 suggest overall firearm offences may be down on the previous year, they point to a doubling of the number of people injured or killed.
Some 1,760 gun related injuries or deaths were provisionally recorded for 2008/09, compared with 864 in 1998/99.
Last week, the Metropolitan Police announced officers armed with submachine guns are to patrol the streets for the first time.
A hand-picked team from CO19, the Met's elite firearms unit, will walk the beat in gun crime hot spots in London where armed gangs have turned estates into "no-go zones".
The officers will carry Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, capable of firing 800 rounds a minute, and Glock semi-automatic pistols.
It is the first time that armed officers will be sent on routine foot patrol anywhere in the country outside Northern Ireland.
There is also a growing trend of young women being involved in gun crime.
Figures from the Met earlier this month showed the number caught hiding weapons for criminals and boyfriends increase from two in 2007 to 12 so far this year.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "It is misleading to compare figures for 2007 / 08 with those from 2002 and before, due to changes in recording practices.
"There has been an 11 per cent fall in gun crime since 2005 and provisional figures for firearm offences recorded by the police show they account for 0.2 per cent of all recorded crime.
"We remain absolutely committed to tackling gun crime through targeted policing and tough policing."