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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 12:11 GMT
Shootings part of city's violent trend
Graphic showing recent gun crime in Birmingham
Gun crime is on the rise in Birmingham
The shooting of four teenagers in Birmingham is the most shocking example in a growing catalogue of gun crime in the city.

Until recent years, the city was relatively free of shootings, while they were common in Manchester and London.

Now shootings and other violent attacks are regular occurrences in inner city areas of Birmingham.

A city centre hospital is now dealing with 12 victims a month.

In 2002 we arrested 57 people for gun-related offences and seized 92 illegal firearms

A West Midlands police spokesman

Criminologist and former West Midlands police officer Doug Sharp said: "We're going to see more shooting incidents and they will be a regular feature of our news for some time.

"It's relatively straightforward to get firearms in this country - there has been an increase in firearms coming into the country since the end of the Balkan conflicts.

"After all if you can smuggle people into the country you can smuggle firearms."

Transport drugs

Mr Sharp said the situation was similar to that of the United States five years ago where major drug dealers would use children to transport drugs.

"They would be given firearms almost as sort of fashion accessories," he said.

"The idea being that if you get into a situation where there is a disagreement then you use your gun, as people would have years ago pulled out a knife and stabbed someone."

He said it could be difficult for the police to catch the gunmen responsible for killing two teenage girls in Aston on Thursday.

Guns
Gun crime has increased over the last six years

"The fear in the community, the fear of reprisal means the police are going to have a very difficult job unless the public are willing to come forward."

Professor David Wilson, a criminologist at the University of Central England and a former prison governor, said it was important to recognise different types of gun ownership.

"There are some that use guns as an accountant would use a computer, but I think this is about disaffected people, it's about poverty.

"In areas such as Aston and Handsworth where there are disaffected estates, it's about status."

Tackle crime

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr and Birmingham, said there were a number of projects underway in the city to tackle the problem.

"We have set up schemes to help tackle crime in the area and a new network has been set up to offer careers advice."

At the City Hospital in Birmingham, the number of people being treated for shootings has trebled in four years.

A spokesman for the hospital said about 12 patients come in each month with gunshot or stab wounds.


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03 Jan 03 | England
03 Jan 03 | Politics
03 Jan 03 | England
14 Nov 02 | England
18 Sep 02 | England
01 Sep 02 | England
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