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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 14:19 GMT
Shot woman Pc 'talking to family'
Rachael Bown
Rachael Bown has regained consciousness
A 23-year-old police officer who was shot while investigating a burglary in Nottingham has regained consciousness in hospital.

Rachael Bown, a probationary officer, was shot in the stomach in Lenton shortly before midnight on Monday.

Police said Pc Bown was in a serious but stable condition and had been talking to her family.

In the Commons Tony Blair said far more needed to be done to tackle gun crime, and sent his best wishes to Pc Bown.

A police spokeswoman said: "While she is clearly in a serious condition, she's young and strong and signs are very encouraging."

I cannot speak highly enough of what Rachael has done
Steve Green, Nottinghamshire Chief Constable

Pc Bown, who was nearing the end of her two-year probation, was only recently transferred to the city centre.

She was on duty with an experienced male officer when she was shot in the abdomen below her stab vest.

The attack happened about half a mile from where the burglary took place.

Pc Bown underwent emergency surgery at the city's Queen's Medical Centre.

'Raw courage'

During a debate in the Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister conceded that tougher laws on gun crime were needed and said new proposals will be published over the next few months.

He said: "I think we need, in the same way that we have with anti-social behaviour legislation and indeed with terrorist legislation, to introduce tougher laws that make it harder for these people to operate.

"Much of the gun crime is associated with drugs and illegal people trafficking and organised crime."

Forensics

A retired decorator who lives close to where Pc Bown was shot has described how he was woken by the sound of a single blast from a gun followed by screaming.

Barry Crane, 73, said: "The first thing I heard was a big massive bang.

"I heard these horrible screams of pain. I could tell it was a woman's voice."

Mr Crane took a blanket to the stricken policewoman as she lay bleeding against his railings.

Chief Superintendent Marcus Beale said it was not clear whether the gunman was connected to the burglary on Lenton Boulevard. No one has been arrested.

Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Steve Green told BBC News that the force was "winning the fight against gun crime" in the city, despite the shooting.

He said: "If there is one person with a gun in Nottingham, then there's a risk but there is a much lower risk than there was, and we believe we can reduce it even further.

"Along the way there are bound to be setbacks but what we see on the frontline is the raw courage of individual officers.

"I cannot speak highly enough of what Rachael has done in displaying that courage."

The number of shootings in Nottingham fell by 74% last year compared with the previous year.

Britain's most senior police chief, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and the Association of Chief Police Officers oppose the routine arming of officers.

Pc Bown was wearing the standard issue equipment used by Nottinghamshire Police. It is stab-proof and has a level of protection against bullets.


SEE ALSO:
Policewoman, 23, shot in burglary
14 Feb 06 |  Nottinghamshire
City fighting 'gun capital' tag
14 Feb 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Shooting figures decline in city
11 Jan 06 |  Nottinghamshire
City 'plagued by gangs and guns'
12 Oct 05 |  England
Anti-gun crime strategy unveiled
27 Jun 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Gun crime victims tell of anguish
15 Mar 05 |  Nottinghamshire


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