Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has welcomed the Force’s response to gun and knife crime and its partnership work targeting gang culture.
New figures, revealed in a report to the Strategic Governance Board on Monday (July 28), show the number of recorded crimes where a firearm or imitation firearm has been involved in some way has fallen from 204 in 2012/13 to 197 this year. However, during the same period, knife crime offences have risen from 291 in 2012/13 to 348 in 2013/14. It is unclear whether this is a genuine increase in offences or an increased accuracy in recording due to new procedures but the Commissioner and Force are committed to addressing all violence, including weapon-related.
The figures show criminal damage and simple possession offences are the most common gun crime offences, with the most common firearms being BB guns and air weapons. Injuries from firearms have halved within three years from 28 in 2011/12 to 14 in 2013/14.
No figures are currently available in relation to how many recorded gun crimes can be linked to domestic violence. Data for knife crime shows 28% (97) of all offences are domestic-related. Work is ongoing to collect a similar range of data for gun crime.
Nationally, the increased possession and subsequent discharging of firearms has been linked to the increase in gang culture. In Derby, a Multi-Agency Gangs Team involving the Probation Service, Social Services, Derby City Council and third sector organisations has been in place for more than five years. The team has carried out a range of interventions to deter and prevent gang membership, including awareness-raising in City schools and support to identify a positive pathway out of gang culture.
Commissioner Charles commented: “I’m very encouraged by the positive work taking place to remove gun and knife crime from our streets. Violence of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Derbyshire.
“Gun and knife crime has close links to gang culture. To have a real impact on this kind of offending we need to disrupt the misguided ideology behind the culture and steer vulnerable young people clear of unhealthy associations.
“As these figures show, Derbyshire continues to be a safe place to live but I’m very conscious that a single gun offence can heighten fear of crime significantly, regardless of the circumstances. This is why it’s important we channel resources into these areas to limit the impact of these offences on our communities.”
Assistant Chief Constable Martyn Bates added: “These figures help to illustrate a really positive picture of co-operation between the police, the PCC, partners and the voluntary sector. We are working hard to tackle gun crime and keep people safe, including educating young people about the dangers of carrying guns.”
Derbyshire recorded three firearms discharges last year. Such incidents are resource intensive and require some 1,500 staff to cover the initial response and subsequent police investigation.
Two of these discharges were domestic burglaries where money and property were being demanded. The offenders discharged their sawn-off shotguns at the scene without aiming them at anybody to demonstrate their intentions should be taken seriously.
The third discharge incident involved an on-going dispute between rival communities in Derby, resulting in a handgun being discharged into two separate houses.
Derbyshire Constabulary, in conjunction with Derby City Council, has carried out weapons amnesties during the past three years which have all proved successful.
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Posted on Friday 1st August 2014