Gun murders rise despite fall in serious crime

Firearms offences fall but fatalities rise to 59
Firearms offences fall but fatalities rise to 59

More people are being killed as a result of gun crime, despite an overall fall in both homicides and firearms offences, the latest Home Office figures show.

Between March 2006 and April 2007 the police recorded 59 fatalities from firearms offences, up from 49 deaths the year before.

More than half of all firearms offences took place across London, greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

Home office minister Vernon Coaker said: "Firearm offences, however they occur, have a devastating impact on victims and their families.

"That is why we set up the Tackling Gangs Action Programme last year to focus on gun and gang violence in the four cities where over half of gun crime occurs."

The Home Office maintains the overall chances of being a victim of gun crime are low, with firearms offences making up 0.3 per cent of all recorded crime in England and Wales in 2006/07.

Moreover, only three per cent of offences resulted in fatal or serious injury, representing 566 victims.

But today's statistics bear out the impression gun and knife crime is most prevalent among young people, with 21- to 29-year-olds more than twice as likely to be murdered as the general population.

Overall the number of homicides and firearms offences has fallen by two per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

The police recorded 757 deaths as homicide in 2006/07, down from 769 in 2005/06.

Over a third of these involved a "sharp instrument", making stabbing a continued concern.

Police figures show 68 per cent of murdered women knew the main suspect, compared to 44 per cent of men.

Figures from the British Crime Survey (BCS) show little overall change in intimate crime, despite government efforts to tackle domestic violence.

Women were more likely than men to suffer across all forms of intimate abuse, including partner and family abuse, stalking and serious sexual assault.

Overall, nearly a quarter of people aged between 16 and 59 years old told the BCS they had been a victim of partner abuse, five per cent in the last year.

Only 13 per cent went on to report abuse to the police.

Similarly low reporting rates were seen in cases of serious sexual assault, with 11 per cent of victims going to the authorities.

Three per cent of people said they had ever experienced serious sexual assault since 16, but 46 per cent of these had been abused repeatedly.

Mr Coaker continued: "These statistics shine a light on the violence hidden behind closed doors.

"As part of our Tackling Violent Crime Action Plan, which we will launch shortly, we are extending our programme of work with police and other services to tackle domestic violence which emphasises early intervention and prevention as well as the support and resettlement of victims and bringing perpetrators to justice."

The government plans to establish 64 specialist domestic violence courts and by April hopes to have 275 trained independent domestic violence advisers working across the country.


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