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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 15:30 GMT
City fighting 'gun capital' tag
Danielle Beccan
Teenager Danielle Beccan was murdered in October 2004
The shooting of Pc Rachael Bown in Nottingham is a blow for a city struggling to overcome its reputation as a gun-crime troublespot.

Police and councillors have been working hard to dispel the image of Nottingham as gun-ridden.

Last year the city council appointed a "reputation manager" to help fight a perception that Nottingham had become blighted by gun-toting criminal gangs.

Gun crime is an issue in Nottingham in the wake of a series of high profile shootings, including the murder in October 2004 of St Ann's teenager Danielle Beccan.

She died in a drive-by shooting as she walked home from a fair.

That followed the death in October 2003 of shopkeeper Marian Bates, 64, who was shot dead as she defended her daughter Xanthe from an armed robber during a raid on her jewellery store.

'Struggling to cope'

Powerful crime families were said to dominate areas of Nottingham, with turf wars between rival drug gangs one of the main reasons for the rising crime levels.

At one stage Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Steve Green, admitted his force was "struggling to cope" with the increase in violent crime and suggested it might have to "farm out" murder investigations to other forces - although he later retracted his remarks.

Marian Bates
Marian Bates, 64, was shot dead at her jewellery shop

However, recent evidence does provide support for the city council's view that the perception of Nottingham's gun crime is now much worse than the reality.

Figures show the city has managed to turn around a trend that in 2002 saw the it nearing the top of national gun crime statistics, with the eighth highest number of gun crimes in England and Wales.

The latest crime figures showed a 16.5% fall in gun crime in Nottinghamshire, making it one of 13 force areas to record a fall.

There were 11 gun-related injuries in Nottingham in the last 12 months compared to 43 in the preceding 12 month period and 77 in the year before that.

Since 2002 Nottinghamshire Police have seized more than 350 firearms, recovered around 3,500 rounds of ammunition and detained more than 600 offenders.

'Misrepresentation' claim

In addition, the force has seized 1m of class A drugs, achieved the highest arrest-to-charge rate in the country and achieved more than 1,000 years of prison sentences.

Reputation Manager Stephen Barker insisted gun crime in Nottingham was now "coming down" and that it was actually better than in many other major cities.

He believes Nottingham has been blighted by the media who have seized on high-profile crimes and portrayed them as being the norm in the city.

"There is a problem caused by the misrepresentation of the city and we have a very significant challenge in trying to turn that around," he said.

"It is hard to counter the coverage of a massive negative story, but the advantage we have is that people who live in Nottingham say the media coverage does not reflect their experiences of living here."




SEE ALSO
Policewoman, 23, shot in burglary
14 Feb 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Shooting figures decline in city
11 Jan 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Bates killer loses court appeal
07 Dec 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Two convicted of Danielle murder
12 Oct 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Anti-gun crime strategy unveiled
27 Jun 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Living in 'Gun City'
13 Mar 05 |  UK

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