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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 17:32 GMT
Q&A: Gun crime summit
Police chiefs, community leaders and politicians have been meeting in London to discuss ways of combating gun crime in the UK.

The summit was held after latest figures showed there were more than 9,000 gun-related offences in the UK last year.

And it came only days after two teenage girls died after being caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout in Birmingham.

After the summit, the Home Office announced a new initiative to encourage people with illegally held weapons to hand them in.

BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Neil Bennett answers the key questions

Q: Some critics say the summit is a political stunt following the murder of the two Birmingham girls - is that fair?

No, that is not fair. The government had been planning these measures before the Birmingham tragedy. But it is fair to question why it has taken five years of rising gun crime to take action.

Q: What is the gun amnesty that has been announced and what impact will it have?

The amnesty will happen in the spring and will allow people to hand in guns without risking prosecution.

The five previous amnesties since the Second World War took 250,000 guns out of circulation.

Q: Do the police have enough resources to deal with gun crime?

The police would say not. But the Home Office believes better results would be achieved if all the different forces pooled their experience of fighting gun crime.

Q: What do the police know about how guns are obtained by criminals?

The guns come from corrupt gun dealers, or are smuggled in by drug dealers along with drugs. Many are also converted from replica weapons

Q: How convinced are the police that summit meetings like this achieve results?

Not convinced at all. They see tougher laws, more money for resources and long term work to tackle poverty and deprivation as the real answers.


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10 Jan 03 | England
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