Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Wednesday, 12 October 2005 15:38 UK

Beccan murder a city 'watershed'

by Jamie Thompson
BBC News, Nottingham

Danielle Beccan
Danielle was shot on the way home from Goose Fair
The death of Danielle Beccan is seen as a watershed in the battle against gun crime in Nottingham.

The shooting of the schoolgirl shocked the city - and left Nottinghamshire Police having to investigate one of its most difficult ever cases.

Thousands of people flocked to a vigil in memory of Danielle in the city centre two weeks after her death.

And a gun amnesty prompted by her death saw dozens of weapons handed in.

But the most profound statistic in the year since her murder is the gun crime figures themselves.

Fatal shooting

David Blunkett, Home Secretary at the time of the shooting, said on a visit to the city after the death that Nottingham could be a "symbol of turnaround".

Since Danielle's death, 34-year-old Paul Thomas was shot dead in Nottingham. Three men have been charged with the killing.

In 2004 there were 24 people injured in shootings.

So far this year, the figure stands at six.

Detectives and council leaders believe Danielle's death has prompted a determination for Nottingham to shed its gun crime capital image.

Flower and Danielle tribute t-shirt
Police said the case was one of the most difficult they have dealt with

Council leader Jon Collins said: "I believe it has been a watershed.

"Obviously every shooting is shocking, but people were particularly shocked and appalled by this murder.

"I think it really did have an impact in a number of ways.

"I think there's been a change in the way that people involved in criminal activities view guns, and that has to be good.

"We all welcome the fact there has been a move away from the use of firearms a year on - we have seen a good positive change but we have to stick at it."

Following Danielle's death, the police and the city council launched a new strategy, Nottingham Stands Together, to try to tackle gun, knife and drug-related crime.

It was described as "robust police enforcement" alongside education and prevention activities.

It's been one of the most difficult cases that Nottinghamshire has had to investigate
Det Supt Kevin Flint

Police chiefs have worked to try to build on the revulsion felt at Danielle's murder.

Det Supt Kevin Flint, who led the investigation into her murder, said: "It's been one of the most difficult cases that Nottinghamshire has had to investigate for many years.

"But a key issue for me is the support that we have had from the public in general and the bravery of people coming forward."

The trial at Nottingham Crown Court was told how a bitter gang feud between rival areas - St Ann's and The Meadows - led to the shooting.

"It's fair to say there have been issues between inner-city areas and Nottinghamshire is no different to anywhere else in the country," said Det Supt Flint.

"I think a massive point for me is the revulsion not only from St Ann's but from the Meadows community and, in general terms, all of Nottinghamshire effectively are disgusted about this offence and appalled by the actions of just a few.

"If bridges can be built then hopefully some good can come from the interaction between the two communities."

Weapon hunt

Around 80 officers were involved in the inquiry and more than 4,000 people seen by officers.

An investigation into who else was in the car when the gun shots were fire - and where the weapon itself is - is still ongoing.

Det Supt Flint admitted the case was one the hardest he has personally been involved in.

"It does not come any worse," he said.

He was brutal in his assessment of Danielle's killers, Junior Andrews and Mark Kelly.

He said the pair "associated themselves with firearms, had no respect for law and order and no respect for human life".


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