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Offensive Weapons: Crime Prevention

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government have taken to reduce gun crime since 1997. (197680)

[holding answer 1 April 2008]: The Government have taken a range of action since 1997. This has focused on legislation, enforcement and prevention.

Legislative measures include:

the introduction of a five-year minimum sentence for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm;

the creation of a new offence of using someone to mind a weapon;

banning the sale, manufacture and importation of realistic imitation firearms;

doubling the sentence for the possession of an imitation firearm in public; and

banning the sale, manufacture and importation of tandem cartridge air systems, such as the Brocock.

On enforcement:

We support the work of dedicated intelligence-led enforcement such as Operation Trident, which has a good track record in dealing with gun crime in London. Similar operations have been established in other priority areas.

We held a national firearms amnesty in April 2003, which resulted in 44,000 guns and over a million rounds of ammunition being handed in and removed from circulation.

In September 2007, we set up the Tackling Gangs Action Programme (TGAP), to focus work in areas of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool which were particularly affected by street gangs and gun crime. A Day of Action in November 2007 resulted in 124 arrests. Further robust enforcement activity has followed, including during a targeted month of action during March 2008.

TGAP has also been concentrating on the supply of firearms, with focused action on postal hubs and other potential supply routes.

The Home Office supported the establishment of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, which is implementing an enhanced firearms forensic technology capability.

And on prevention:

The Government work with a wide range of delivery partners on initiatives which can help prevent gun violence. These include the Safer Schools Partnerships, whereby police officers are allocated to schools, providing young people with contact with police officers in a neutral setting; CrimeStoppers, which acts as a conduit for information on crime, including gun crime; From Boyhood to Manhood and other organisations which work intensively with vulnerable young people who have been excluded from school to help them reach their potential; and Street Pastors, who work in a number of inner city areas to help and support young people on the streets.

The continued delivery of this programme of work will be taken forward through the Tackling Violence Action Plan, published on 18 February 2008.