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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 12:21 GMT
Armed crime on the increase

Only half of armed incidents involve real weapons


Armed crime rose by 10% last year according to figures which demonstrate a worrying increase in the use of weapons by criminals.

Police recorded 13,671 armed offences in 1998 - up from 12,410 the previous year.

However, experts believe around half such incidents involve imitation guns.


Firearms figures
Number of armed offences up from 12,410 to 13,671
Number of licensed guns fell 3% to 295,100
Firearms dealers dropped 9% to 2,180
Armed robberies down from 3,029 to 2,843
When reporting armed incidents, untrained members of the public find it hard to distinguish between real and fake firearms.

The increase in armed crime is of serious concern to the police amid a decrease in the number of licensed firearms.

Home Office figures (for England and Wales) show that the number of licensed guns fell by 3% in 1998 as the impact of the tightened of gun laws established in the wake of the Dunblane massacre in March 1996 continued to be felt.

Overall, 295,100 firearms were covered by certificates at the end of 1998, compared with a peak of 418,300 in 1996 before the legislation took effect.


Body armour is now standard issue for many forces
The number of registered firearms dealers dropped by 9% to 2,180.

The Home Office figures also show the number of armed robberies - which includes muggings, raids on banks and shops - was down from 3,029 in 1997 to 2,843.

Areas of the country with the highest number of certificated firearms are the rural areas including Dyfed Powys, West Mercia, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, and Norfolk.

Inner city police areas - including Cleveland, West and South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and the Metropolitan area - contain the lowest number of certificated firearms.

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See also:
27 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Firearms offences at new low
31 Jan 98 |  UK
Weapons amnesty for new gun law

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