Gun crime has almost doubled since Labour came to power as a culture of extreme gang violence has taken hold. The latest Government figures show that the total number of firearm offences in England and Wales has increased from 5,209 in 1998/99 to 9,865 last year – a rise of 89 per cent. In some parts of the country, the number of offences has increased more than five-fold. In eighteen police areas, gun crime at least doubled.
The statistic will fuel fears that the police are struggling to contain gang-related violence, in which the carrying of a firearm has become increasingly common place. Last week, police in London revealed they had begun carrying out armed patrols on some streets. The move means officers armed with sub-machine guns are engaged in routine policing for the first time.
Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, said last night: ‘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.’ He added: ‘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’.