Britain's rising levels of gun crime

By Sophie Borland and Aislinn Simpson
Last Updated: 3:12am BST 24/08/2007 

The number of young people prosecuted for firearms offences has soared by 20 per cent in the past five years, it was revealed earlier this month.

In 2001, 1,193 youngsters under age 21 went to magistrates courts on gun related charges. By 2005, that had risen to 1,444. The statistics come after a recent wave of gun crime in Britain’s inner cities, with many victims not even out of their teens.

Shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said: “The rise in gun crime demonstrated by these figures is alarming.”

In April Bernard Hogan-Howe, the chief constable of Merseyside Police, insisted new laws to make reporting information on shootings and possession of guns a 'duty’’ were essential because people were too scared to come forward.

Mr Hogan-Howe, in the running to be the next Metropolitan Police commissioner, said the wall of silence protecting the increasing number of young people drawn into gun crime had to be broken.

In an interview with The Guardian, he said Britain should adopt laws similar to those in Australia "where people have a duty to report information about gun crime to the police".

But he called on the Government to push them further and apply them to firearm victims too frightened of reprisals to press charges.

"The challenge is people who survive do not want to complain and the best witness is quite often the victim who can provide a description and motive," he said.

"By refusing to help it can put the investigation on to the back foot."

His comments come as police chiefs voice growing frustration at the difficulty in tackling gun crime among youths.

Mr Hogan-Howe told the newspaper his force was already evicting families that harboured children who possessed guns, and moving them to other areas.

His officers are also instructed to stop and search suspects regularly. The chief constable, who attended a gun crime summit at Downing Street in February, said such initiatives were leading the way in stamping out the problem.

My 2 cents:

In the U.K., gun ownership is pretty much banned (except for a few types of shotguns, and even those are EXTREMELY difficult to purchase and own).  Yet their gun crime continues to grow out of control.  How many more worthless laws will they pass to no useful end?