Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that police will get weapons scanners to help them in their bid to curb gun crime.

Mr Brown told the Labour conference in Bournemouth that: “We took the right decision to ban handguns, and now we need to deal with the illegal supply of guns. Two-thirds of deaths from gun crime occur in just four cities.” Inner cities such as Birmingham, Greater Manchester, London and Liverpool have been highlighted as hotspots for gun crime.

Oct 19, 2007
By David Howell
Dr Brian Plastow

Mr Brown told the Labour conference in Bournemouth that: “We took the right decision to ban handguns, and now we need to deal with the illegal supply of guns. Two-thirds of deaths from gun crime occur in just four cities.” Inner cities such as Birmingham, Greater Manchester, London and Liverpool have been highlighted as hotspots for gun crime.

The comments by the Prime Minister were prompted by the sharp rise in gun related crime, the last incident of which was the shooting dead of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool last month. A Home Office spokeswoman said after Mr Brown’s speech that the new detectors would be like metal detector ‘wands’ that are often seen at airport security points or are used in some stop and search events.

Hand-held weapon scanning devices are certainly nothing new. Many forces already deploy them. In 1994 Strathclyde police, as part of the Safer Scotland initiative, used these devices to clamp down on criminals who habitually carried weapons. By July 2006 approximately 1,000 scanners were in use across Scottish forces. Mr Brown, along with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, is making it a priority to deploy these scanners across forces in the UK.

Jan Berry, the chairman of the Police Federation, welcomed many of the proposals, but said: “The only question police officers will now be asking is where is the money coming from to pay for all these initiatives? Is it new money? A fair question to ask at a time when Mr Brown is seeking to cut our pay.”

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