30 Mar 2011

London gun crime figures ‘worryingly high’

Channel 4 News charts gun crime in the capital as the chair of London’s anti-gun campaign says more resources must be spent on preventing inner city youngsters turning to firearms.

London gun crime figures 'worryingly high'

Campaigners today called for extra resources to be spent on tackling gun crime in the capital after a five-year-old girl and a shopkeeper were caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting in south London.

The young girl and 35-year-old man are in a critical condition in hospital after being shot inside the Stockwell Food and Wine shop on Stockwell Road, south London.

Detectives said they were innocent bystanders in gang shooting. Witnesses said two black youths ran into the shop to hide from a group chasing them. As they sheltered inside, one of the attackers opened fire shooting the five-year-old in the chest and the man in the face.

Lambeth councillor Peter Robbins said Wednesday the whole community was “numb and horrified”.

“There is a fairly well-known problem with gangs and guns in Lambeth,” he said. “It is something that the council and the police are working together incredibly hard to solve.

“Obviously, there is always more you can do and incidents like this really bring that home.”

The shooting comes almost a year since schoolgirl Agnes Sinawa-Inakoju was shot dead by gang members in Hackney, east London, when teenagers sprayed sub-machine gun bullets outside a takeaway. Police said the 16-year-old was not the perpetrators’ intended target.

‘More resources’

Chair of the Trident Independent Advisory Group, Claudia Webbe, told Channel 4 News extra money needed to be spent on preventing gun crime and dealing with the “worryingly high” statistics of youth firearm offences.

“We clearly need to do is more before that bullet has been fired,” Claudia Webbe said.

“That requires all agencies working together. It requires us to do more work in schools, more work in our communities and it does require us to do much more in terms of the drugs industry and the ability of young people to acquire these dangerous weapons.”

She added: “There’s a lot more that could be done to ensure we hit the problem head on and it requires more investment.

“If this was happening in Canary Wharf I’m sure there would be every amount of resource going in to ensure that didn’t happen. So when it’s happening in Lambeth, places like Southwark or Haringey, then it’s important that we protect communities, support families we invest more, put more resources into those particular areas. We can then identify and target vulnerable young people and we enable them to take a different route in life.”

Ms Webbe said gun crime figures in London were improving and insisted that Trident – the Metropolitan Police initiative to combat gun crime – had worked to build trust and ensure justice was served.

“In terms of gun crime the figures are actually down month on month this year…but they are still worryingly high. In Lambeth and in Southwark they are the highest of all London boroughs.

“To some extent there needs to be more concentration in particular areas. Those particular problems are related to socio-economic problems, the environment, poverty, all kinds of problems that allow a vulnerable mindset to be controlled and be engaged in mindless criminal activity.”


Future investment

Ms Webbe said investment was crucial to improving certain communities in London.

“There are not enough resources going in to our inner city areas” she said. “What families and parents have to put up with in terms of drugs trading on their inner city doorsteps is not good enough – we need to do more.

“It’s not a majority of young people that get caught up but it only takes that minority. What is sure is that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime will be caught.

“The work that’s been done in Trident and the community in terms of building trust and confidence – somebody knows something, and they will share that information. That’s been partly the purpose of Trident. So those individuals will be caught without a doubt.”

Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to call police on 0300 123 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.