Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 11:43 UK

Rise in shotgun crimes in London

A shotgun
A total of 45 shotguns have come into Met's hands this year

There has been a rise of more than 50% in the use of shotguns in crimes in London, Metropolitan Police has said.

There were 165 crimes when a shotgun was used, but not necessarily discharged, between January and July this year, 57% up from last year.

Among the offences were a murder, burglaries, robberies, several car-jackings and a wanted man shooting at police officers.

The Met has asked licensed owners to store the weapons securely.

Forty-five shotguns have come into Met's hands since the beginning of 2009 and several have been linked to thefts from shotgun holders across the UK.

There are about 24,000 shotgun certificate holders in the capital owning around 50,000 weapons.

'Wrong hands'

Det Supt Gary Donnison from the Metropolitan Police anti-shooting unit, said: "The lower cost of ammunition, the ease of use and the absence of viable alternatives means that shotguns are being used by criminals as an accessory to their crimes.

"These weapons are either already circulating within the criminal community or they have been stolen from their lawful owners - in London and across the rest of the UK.

"We urge all owners of shotguns to ensure that they take every care to store and transport their weapons correctly and responsibly and to report any suspicious activity to the police.

"It is vital that we prevent legally held weapons falling into the wrong hands."

The Met said that between January and July this year there had been 55 crimes where a shotgun was fired - a 53% increase on the same period in 2008.

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