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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Gun crime
Gun culture is sweeping Britain.

According to the latest available figures, there were some 17,500 incidents involving guns in England and Wales last year.

More criminals own more guns in the UK than ever before.

Vanessa Collingridge reports on the gunmen without a conscience.

She travels to Britain's gun crime blackspots to track down gang members, criminals and former armed robbers.

Gun victims

Rival gang conflicts usually happen in the streets which means there is always the chance an ordinary law-abiding citizen will get caught in the crossfire.

Coming home from the shops in Moss Side, Manchester 71-year-old Alice Carroll was hit in the back by a stray bullet. It missed her spine by inches.

Andre Aylward, 27, was returning home in Streatham, South London late after work last year when he unwittingly drove straight into a gang gun battle. He was hit many times.

Andre was shot close to his own doorstep. After his death, his family found living there unbearable and moved away.

Mishail Husain meets the innocent victims of gun crime.

Armed response

Armed officers on the streets of Britain are the last thin blue line against the rising tide of gun crime.

But when a policeman or woman fires a weapon, even when justified, the long and painstaking investaigation that follows can have a devastating effect on their lives.

Former policeman Jack Frost underwent a two-year investigation into a shooting incident in which he was involved. He was completely exonerated but left the job he loved for a new life in America.

"The pressure that was put on me eventually caused the break up of my marriage and forced me to leave the country," he said.

4x4 reporter John Stapleton discovers that as police forces struggle to recruit armed officers, criminals find it easier to get a weapon.

Fighting back

By the middle of the 90s, Moss Side had had so many shootings that Manchester became known as Gunchester, a label that has stuck.

This year alone, the Moss Side and Longsight districts have seen 19 shootings.

But last month, in a display of public outrage, residents marched in protest at escalating gang violence.

David Akinsanya reports on a community's struggle for a gun-free life.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sean, jailed for shooting
"I fired two shots. One grazed his shoulder, the other went into his leg."
David Akinsanya
"The Moss Side story is not just about crime. As I march with locals I find it's about many innocent people. "
4x4 Reports: Gun crime

See also:

01 Jun 02 | England
01 Jun 02 | England
29 Apr 02 | England
10 Jul 00 | UK
10 Jul 00 | UK
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