The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) will today (Thursday) discuss an almost doubling of incidents of firearm use in London in the last six months, bucking the trend in other UK hotspots and raising concerns among politicians that gun crime may be out of control.
In the last six months there has been a increase in Trident shootings (up 92 per cent from 123 to 236) although fatalities are down from six to four, indicating a greater propensity to use firearms to injure rather than kill, a developing tactic among younger gang members.
The figures contrast with those nationally, where firearms offences have fallen by five per cent. Hotspots such as Merseyside has seen a reduction of 27 per cent.
Joanne McCartney, Labour spokeswoman on policing on the London Assembly, said: “It is extremely concerning and what I’d like to see is some more information on the age of the young people involved. We need to ask whether there has to be a shift in resources and whether the focus which was on knife crime has now to be moved to gun crime.”
The MPA’s Strategic and Operational Policing Committee meets today to consider a report by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who states the increase in firearms discharges has continued to be a matter of grave concern to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) although the increase must be set against the context of a 25.8 per cent reduction in 2008/9.
Ms Dick writes: “[The increase is] the subject of significant cross-business group operational activity. Gold groups have put in place joint action plans for a number of boroughs and cross-borough problems. Members of communities and independent advisers have been fully involved in the development of plans.”
The proportion of victims of black community shootings who are teenagers has reached 38 per cent, and Trident concludes that teenagers’ relative impulsivity and a lack of understanding of consequences may be contributing to the increase. Also noteworthy has been an increase in the use of shotguns and converted handguns. It is believed that this is due to better availability of the ammunition for such weapons.
Ms Dick explains: “The number and proportion of non-fatal gunshot wounds to the leg has increased; it may be that gunmen are deliberately seeking to avoid a 30-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for homicide with a firearm by shooting victims in the leg.”