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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
London: Sport not guns
Khevyn Limbajee
Khevyn Limbajee
Politics Show London

Is gun crime under control?

Politics Show London investigates gun crime in London and examines schemes to get young people off the streets and involved in sport.

London has been scarred by gun crime over the last five years in common with many other inner city areas across the UK.

Between 1999 and 2005, there was a 84% increase in UK gun-crime, and nearly half of all incidents - 42% - took place in the capital.

Brent is London's worst Borough for gun-crime. The area has seen a 25% increase in gun-related incidents since July 2004, compared with a drop of 15% in London as a whole.

The latest statistics make for grim reading. The only positive story is that murder in the Borough is down by 7.8%.

This year, there have been 219 incidents.

Residents in Harlesden were so concerned about influence of guns that they successfully campaigned to remove promotional posters for Guy Ritchie's new Film 'Revolver' from a petrol station.

Young lives

But removing the posters does not remove the problem according to Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East.

Teather says the Government must give potential offenders more recreational activities or they will turn to the trigger.

She believes that more needs to be done to tackle the problem at its roots: "What the government is doing is criminal.

"Youngsters here in Brent have got nothing to do. It is not enough to just pave the streets with police, you have to target the roots.

"In Brent there is Wembley stadium - but there is nothing for the kids to do."

But a number of local bodies have been trying to start the ball rolling by encouraging new sporting activities for vulnerable teenagers and young children.

Cricket montage
Street kids have benefited from the Cricket scheme

No to crime, yes to cricket

The London Community Cricket Association (LCCA) are using cricket to diffuse cultural tension.

They believe community programmes like themselves are as, if not more, effective than the Metropolitan Police at targeting gun-crime.

Now Labour has pledged a stronger Police presence in London's crime-rife Boroughs, but the LCCA has not seen this promise materialise.

Seventeen-year old fast bowler Adam Hall has certainly benefited from the cricket scheme.

He is already reaping the benefits of the scheme: "I was a street kid before cricket.

"Initiatives like this have really turned my life around. I'm from the East End - I see kids and gangs all the time"

Community action

People in Brent have had enough of the tragic waste of human life. They know exactly what it is like to live in a community where teenagers are being killed.

Patsy Hopwood is the lead campaigner for the lobby group, Not Another Drop - she was the mother of a victim of crime.

On the 2nd April 2003, her son Kevin was gunned down and murdered in Brent.

She says: "I feel sorry for those with the guns because they have not way out. The government needs to give them a way out by investing for in local London communities such as Brent.

"I don't blame the government, the police work really hard but there is always more that needs to be done."

Patsy believes that the best way of stopping further gun tragedy is to invest in movements like the LCCA.

Gun control

But it is not just offenders that need taking off the streets, it is the guns, but is gun control working in the light of the latest statistics?

The answer has stumped Patsy Hopwood who despite the tireless work of the Metropolitan Police is still searching for her son's killer.

The enhanced Police presence across London's streets is not necessary hitting gun-crime for six.

Smaller organisations like the LCCA are making some inroads into tackling the problem at root level.

So should Britain's major parties be shifting their boundaries a little closer to the community?

Politics Show

Join Politics Show on BBC One on Sunday 18 September 2005 at 1.20pm with Tim Donovan.

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Politics from around the UK...

Mothers march against gun crime
10 Sep 05 |  London

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