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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 20:20 GMT
Police 'winning London gun crime battle'
Guns
Gun crime in the capital has fallen in 2003
London's police chief says his officers are winning the battle against gun crime.

Although the number of gun-related incidents rose last year, the start of 2003 has seen a dramatic improvement in the situation, says Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens.

His comments come after public attention was focused on the nationwide problem by the shooting dead of two teenage girls at a New Year party.

Charlene Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17 were caught in the cross-fire of a shoot-out between rival gangs in Birmingham.

Sir John Stevens shows weapons collected during a guns amnesty
In the last six weeks - in the beginning of this year - the use of guns has gone down by 28%

Sir John Stevens
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Shortly afterwards the government announced a range of measures to tackle gun crime, including a ban on the carrying of replica guns and air weapons in public places.

Speaking of the situation in London, Sir John told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme: "We are winning.

"There is no doubt that there are far too many guns in London and across the board, but if you look at the recent figures, use of guns went up considerably in London [last year], but in the last six weeks - in the beginning of this year - the use of guns has gone down by 28%."

He said there had been particular success in dealing with "so-called black-on-black shooting".

Optimism

The detection rate for this type of crime had quadrupled, amid signs that the police were winning the confidence of the capital's ethnic minority communities, Sir John said.

He went on: "The really good news is that the detection rate for Operation Trident, dealing with so-called black-on-black shooting, was 20%, and last year it went up to 80%.

"It means people are coming forward and the tactics we are using are working."

Sir John said he was "very optimistic for the future", with police numbers in the capital increasing to an expected 35,000 in 2004.

Letisha Shakespeare
Letisha Shakespeare was killed in cross-fire
"I might even get the same number of officers as [former Commissioner] Paul Condon had 10 years ago," he said.

"That will have an effect."

Police tactics and court sentencing policies had brought burglaries in the capital down to a 25-year low and it was hoped that violent crime too could be reduced, said Sir John.

Official Home Office figures released last month showed that gun crime in England and Wales soared by 35% last year, the fourth consecutive year to see a rise.

Firearms were used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the 12 months to last April across the country, up from 7,362.


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12 Jan 03 | Politics
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