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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 05:55 GMT 06:55 UK
Replica gun sales 'fuel crime fears'
Marian Bates
Marian Bates was shot dead as she tried to shield her daughter
Police are to more closely monitor the sale of fake guns amid concern they are being turned into lethal weapons, it is being reported.

The move in London follows a confidential Scotland Yard report showing a growing number of replica guns are being converted to fire live ammunition, according to Saturday's Guardian.

The study by the specialist crime directorate seen by the paper expresses concern that the conversion of fake guns has become as much of a threat as the illegal importation of handguns.

Police found 72% of the firearms seized by the Metropolitan Police under last year's Operation Trident, were either imitations, air weapons, blank firers or starter pistols that had been converted, modified or upgraded to fire bullets.

Gun survey

Replicas can be bought over the counter in gun shops and some sports shops.

The news comes shortly after a spate of shootings around the country although the offence accounts for just 0.4% of all recorded crime.

Also on Saturday, the Independent said anti-gun crime tactics used by Scotland Yard's murder team would be spread throughout the country, to limit the "menace" of gun and gang-related crimes.

About 100 people die every year, who are the victims of around 30 firearms incidents every day, said the newspaper.

They surveyed statistics for gun crime in 34 forces for one week.

The deaths of 64-year-old jeweller Marian Bates, nightclub doorman, David King, seven-year-old Tony-Ann Byfield and her father, and 60-year-old Amratlal Kanabar have recently brought the issue of gun crime to the foreground.

According to the Guardian, Scotland Yard say they would also work towards closer co-operation with postal and courier service, due to fears the weapons, and the necessary components are being sent by post.

But Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur warned the fear of gun crime was "disproportionate to the reality".

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06 Oct 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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