Culture of violence: Gun crime goes up by 89% in a decade
By James Slack
Last updated at 8:42 AM on 27th October 2009
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Gun crime has increased five-fold in some parts of the UK
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'.
The gun crime figures, which were obtained by the Tories from official Parliamentary answers, do not include air weapons.
But they provide the first regional breakdown of the increasing use of firearms.
Lancashire suffered the single largest rise in gun crime, with recorded offences increasing from 50 in 1998/99 to 349 in 2007/08, an increase of 598 per cent.
Armed: Officers engaged in routine policing are carrying sub-machine guns for the first time
Only four police forces - Cleveland-Humberside, Cambridgeshire and Sussex - recorded falls in gun crime.
The number of people injured or killed by guns, excluding air weapons, has increased from 864 in 1998/99 to a provisional figure of 1,760 in 2008/09, an increase of 104 per cent .
The figures follow a warning by Mr Grayling that U.S.-style gang culture has reached some parts of the UK.
In August, he made a controversial speech warning that a collapse of 'civilised life' had allowed a brutal drug and gun crime culture - like that of the U.S. TV show The Wire - to flourish in Britain.
The hit TV series tracks the nightmare of gangs and organised crime in inner city West Baltimore and the futile efforts of police to deal with them.
The Met's decision to employ armed officers on the streets has attracted criticism.
But the force, which has already begun the scheme, insists that the unprecedented tactic is a proportionate and temporary response to prevent armed gangs from controlling estates.
Trident poster campaign warning of dangers of young women and girls storing and transporting guns for others
Last month, police warned that teenage girls were now being dragged into the gun culture by hiding weapons for their boyfriends.
Police are targeting girls between 15 and 19 with an advertising blitz warning them that they can expect a five-year prison sentence if they are caught.
The number of women charged with firearms offences in London has increased six-fold in the past year - 12 have been charged since January.
Seven of them were teenagers, including a 16-year-old arrested after a 9mm Browning self-loading pistol was found in her bedroom.
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