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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

London’s gun crime

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Hidden in the text of the article is the rather less sensational and more welcome finding that gun crime has been falling rapidly with only 127 shots fired in the first half of 2014 with just one related death. What is perhaps most startling is the way that the police have reduced shootings without entering into a gun battle with criminals.

The disturbing extent of gun crime

The Evening Standard headline last Tuesday (7 October 2014) read “The shocking scale of London’s gun crime revealed”, and went on to say that a Freedom of Information request had revealed that criminals had fired 1,400 shots in the previous three and a half  years resulting in 29 deaths.

Hidden in the text of the article is the rather less sensational and more welcome finding that gun crime has been falling rapidly with only 127 shots fired in the first half of 2014 with just one related death.

What is perhaps most startling is the way that the police have reduced shootings without entering into a gun battle with criminals.

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Stop, Police

There’s a famous one-liner by Robin Williams which was much circulated again at the time of his tragic suicide in August 2014 which points out the different approach to policing in the States and the UK:

“In England, if you commit a crime, the police don’t have a gun and you don’t have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, “Stop, or I’ll say stop again.”

The scale of the difference is clearly illustrated by the infographic below from Statista which shows that “adversarial conflict incidents” involving police firing their guns happen 15 times more often in New York than the whole of England and Wales (with a population seven times larger). Taking this difference in population into account, police in New York are 100 times more likely to shoot at criminals than their English & Welsh counterparts:

Infographic: Police Firearms Discharges: How the UK and New York Compare | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

In my opinion, the police’s continued ability to tackle gun crime without resorting to firearms should be a front page headline on the Standard.

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