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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 10:19 GMT
Major crackdown on guns culture
A raid in Liverpool
There were 57 arrests in Merseyside after raids
More than 100 arrests were made and more than 1,300 weapons seized in a major offensive against gun culture, the home secretary has announced.

Co-ordinated raids in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London led to 118 arrests and the seizure of the weapons - most of them replicas.

More than 1,000 officers were involved in the crackdown, which included work in schools and support for families.

Jacqui Smith said it showed the police could "fight back against gangs".

It's important that we make sure that we're getting guns and other weapons off the streets, that we're making clear that this isn't the sort of activity that we have to live with
Jacqui Smith

Speaking from Longsight police station in Manchester, she said: "What yesterday demonstrates is that this is the case and I hope that will reassure communities and encourage the police officers and others that have been working on this to keep up the good work."

Not all of the 118 arrests were gun related; others were linked to drugs, prostitution and other crimes.

The home secretary added: "What we know is that the relationship with gang membership and drugs crime and other things often can lead to gun crime and it's important that we tackle that.

"It's important that we make sure that we're getting guns and other weapons off the streets, that we're making clear that this isn't the sort of activity that we have to live with, that ordinary members of the community can fight back against it."

OPERATION SEIZURES
Ten handguns
1,296 imitation firearms
Three CS gas canisters
One stun gun
Four air weapons
Large number knives/batons
Live ammunition (five seizures)
34 vehicles
5,900 in cash
67 warrants executed

Police arrested gang members after serving search warrants and operating armed mobile checkpoints which used automatic number plate recognition equipment.

Police were also joined by Revenue and Customs officers in checking the records of registered firearms dealers to ensure they were operating within the law.

West Midlands Police carried out three arrest warrants and made a total of 26 arrests.

In Manchester, drugs, firearms - including a stun gun - and machetes were seized while extra patrols were operating in the areas of Fallowfield, Moss Side and Old Trafford.

And in Liverpool, arrests were made for a variety of offences including the possession of firearms and drugs.

Police also uncovered four cannabis factories and seized a large quantity of class A drugs.

The four cities targeted were identified by the government as gun crime "hot spots" after 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead as he walked home from football practice in Croxteth Park, Liverpool, in August.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has voted to tighten laws on obtaining and possessing firearms.

Under the changes, blank-firing guns that could be converted will be made illegal.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on gun crime



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