The number of gun shots investigated by police scientists at crime scenes has gone up more than 60% in the past four years, according to new figures given to ITV News. The shootings are often related to drug disputes between rival gangs, with the UK’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) recording nearly 600 gun shots in 2017/18, compared to 360 four years ago.
61% increase in four years
2014/15 – 364 discharges
2015/16 – 463 discharges
2016/17 – 585 discharges
2017/18 – 587 discharges
SOURCE: National Ballistics Intelligence Service
Criminal gangs are circumventing the UK’s stringent gun control laws by using antique weapons and homemade ammunition, investigators warned.
NABIS analyses all firearms and bullets recovered in crimes, and its chief scientist told ITV News they have seen indications rival gangs may be renting firearms from third parties.
”Renting guns has always been a feature,” Martin Parker said.
”We saw rival crime groups using the same weapon – and if they are using same one, it must be coming from a third party.”
Mr Parker said the figures should be seen in context, and that they tend to “go in waves”.
MP: “There was a significant decrease between 2008-2014. That was a historically a low point, but we are coming out of that low point,” he said.
Next to the US, the figures suggest the UK is doing a very good job in battling gun crime. But Parker said looking at the UK’s figures next to a similar European country gives a better picture.
MP: “If you look at our gun crime problem and you compare it with a country like France, with a similar population, the gun crime levels are far higher in France than they are in the UK. We are dealing from quite a positive position.”
The figures are however clearly on the rise over the last few years.
The rise has been driven partly by the use of antique weapons, which are being loaded with homemade ammunition.
MP: “If you look at other countries in Europe, certainly in America, you wouldn’t see these weapons used in crime,” said Parker.
He cited the case of Paul Edmunds, who was jailed last year for supplying handguns and homemade bullets linked to more than 100 crime scenes.
Chief Superintendent Andy Parsons from West Midlands Police explained his force have been increasing the number of operations targeting gun crime in the area. After 11 shootings and stabbings with 3 dead last month, West Midlands Police are stepping up their fire arms operations – they were once a week but ITV News joined them on their third in five days.
AP: “Unfortunately so far this year we’ve seen an increase in the number of discharges where firearms have been used, and clearly it’s a priority for us as police to tackle it,” he said.
”We understand there are a number of ongoing disputes, predominantly around drugs, and the use of firearms is in relation to those disputes, so clearly we are using a number of methods and operations to tackle the presence of firearms on the streets and remove the people who are prepared to use them.”