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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 14:58 GMT
Killing highlights UK gun crime
Jessie James
Jessie was gunned down near Broadfield Park, Moss Side
The killing of a 15-year-old boy at his home in south London has once again highlighted the problem of gun crime in Britain's cities.

Although police figures suggest it has been in decline, guns - and the gangs who use them - remain a problem.

In Manchester, the killing of school boy Jessie James in September 2006 prompted a gun amnesty which netted more than 400 weapons.

But despite shaking off its "Gunchester" reputation of the mid-90s, the city still has a gang population which is seduced by the image of the gun.

Ray Bell, of anti-gun group Charisma, said: "Young people these days, they feel to go and settle their scores is to go and pick up a gun.

"The older generation, the community at large, is trying to educate the youngsters that they have to go and find a different way to settling their scores."

Lenny Robinson
We are people who have been brought up in this area, we have had the temptations of drugs, crime etc but we chose another path
Lenny Robinson, United Estates of Wythenshawe

But Mr Bell believes the government has to empower communities to help them educate their youngsters, through the introduction of more mentors.

"We know there is a lot of people who have been through the prison system, or have been through the drugs system and they understand now this game is working or it's developing," he added.

"So, empower them, let them become the mentors for these individuals to go and show them the errors of their ways."

The United Estates of Wythenshawe is a project which mentors gang members on neutral ground.

It is hoped that by allowing them to work out in a gym, the project can give them an alternative focus.

Spokesman Lenny Robinson said: "These kids will show more respect to the likes of us at street level because we do have respect at street level.

"We are people who have been brought up in this area, we have had the temptations of drugs, crime etc but we chose another path."

'Witnesses protected'

Since the launch of its Operation Xcalibre in 2004, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) says gun crime has been falling in the city.

Traditionally, witnesses to gun crime have been reluctant to come forward to police.

The force recently secured a murder conviction against a member of the notorious Gooch Close gang using witnesses whose identities were protected in court.

It is hoped this approach could encourage witnesses to the Jessie James murder, which remains a priority for the force.

Jessie, who was not a member of any gang, was gunned down in the Moss Side area of Manchester, just a few miles south of the city centre.

His killing caused outrage in the community but GMP are yet to make any arrests and are continuing to appeal for vital witnesses to come forward.




SEE ALSO
Robbers shamed in poster campaign
19 Jan 07 |  Manchester
'New leads' in Jessie murder hunt
21 Dec 06 |  Manchester
Billboard appeal in Jessie probe
07 Dec 06 |  Manchester
Gang refusal clue in Jessie probe
10 Nov 06 |  Manchester
Final chance to surrender weapons
31 Oct 06 |  Manchester

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