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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 14:48 GMT
40% of black shootings 'unsolvable'
Posters forming part of Operation Trident
Operation Trident investigates black-on-black gun crime
Up to 40% of "black-on-black" shootings in London are unsolvable because many black witnesses are reluctant to give evidence.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Sellers, who leads the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident initiative on gun crime within the black community, said the reluctance was usually the result of intimidation.

Victims in 2002
1 Jan: Ashley Kenton aka DJ Creation, 22, and Wayne Mowatt, 29, in Hackney
18 Feb: Rodney Cain, 36, in Kensington
9 Apr: Shawn Freckleton, 25, in Thornton Heath
3 Jun: Harrington Jack, in Tottenham
15 Oct: Devon Brown, 31, in Shepherds Bush
Eighteen young black men have been murdered in the capital this year and more than 170 survived shootings.

Mr Sellers urged MPs to support mandatory five-year sentences for possessing weapons.

London detectives are advising more than half of the 43 forces in England and Wales with a developing problem of violence within black communities.

Mr Sellers is meeting MPs on Wednesday to warn that it is spreading to other parts of the UK.

He is also calling on manufacturers to make imitation firearms less easily adaptable into dangerous weapons.

In the past, the generic term "Yardie" has been used to denote the heavy Jamaican influence on this phenomenon.

But the latest assessment is that three out of every five victims is British-born.

Mr Sellers said he had encountered a reckless disregard for life and a pattern of intimidation stretching across the Atlantic to victims' families in Jamaica.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "They seem to have little or no regard for their own lives, let alone the lives of anybody else.


We have had shoot-outs where these two individuals are standing five feet apart and not running for cover

DCS Andy Sellers

He said: "We have had shoot-outs where these two individuals are standing five feet apart and not running for cover, just standing there pointing their guns and shooting.

"We have had incidences where shootings have occurred in this country and the victim or other witnesses have made statements and members of their extended family in Jamaica have had visits from people suggesting that it might be a good idea if this individual didn't give evidence."

Turf wars

Much of the blame can be traced to the turf wars between gangs competing for the lucrative market in crack cocaine, not just in London but Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester and elsewhere.

Most of the violence is linked to "respect", the elevation of minor slights into a cause for vengeance, whatever the cost.

One of this year's incidents in London was a double killing: the first victim had trodden on the gunman's toes in a nightclub and declined to apologise.

The second victim was in another room but the bullet cut through the first victim and a wall to hit him too.

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The BBC's Neil Bennett
"Young people use guns when they believe people have shown them disrespect"

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