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4,000 shot in Britain in a year
Will Iredale

January 16, 2005

(Original article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1442617,00.html)

Figures show war on gun crime failing

FOUR THOUSAND people have suffered shooting injuries in a single year as gun crime continues to rise across Britain. Figures released by the Home Office show that 81 people were shot dead and more than 500 were seriously wounded between April 2002 and March 2003.

The details of gun casualties come as government statistics issued this month are expected to show that other violent crime — mainly fuelled by binge drinking — has risen by 11% compared with the same period last year.

The gunshot injuries are revealed in a paper detailing crimes recorded by police in England and Wales. It is the most up-to-date analysis available of the type of weapons used and the scale of injury.

The data show that 518 people needed to be detained in hospital after being shot and wounded in the 12-month period from 2002-03. More than one-third (187) were seriously injured by handguns while 41 were wounded with shotguns. In total, 3,995 people were shot, of whom about half (2,187) had minor wounds caused by air guns.

The figures will be of great concern to the government, which has tried to convince the public it is winning the battle on gun crime. The 2003-04 figures are also expected to see the trend continue with even more injuries being caused by guns.

Two years ago a guns amnesty was hailed a success by the government after more than 17,000 firearms and 450,000 rounds of ammunition were handed in to police stations across the country. There have also been recent high-profile operations to crack down on guns in inner cities.

However, gun crime figures released last October showed a 3% rise to 10,590 incidents in England and Wales in the year to June — an average of 29 a day. Gun crime has more than doubled since Labour came to power in 1997.

Yesterday, a man was taken to hospital after being shot in the neck while sitting in a parked car at a busy junction in Reading. The victim, who has not been named but is believed to be about 30, is being treated in Royal Berkshire hospital, which says his condition is serious.

The high volume of injuries from gunshots is further highlighted in figures obtained by The Sunday Times from police forces under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the past two years the Metropolitan police recorded 2,015 incidents, while in Manchester 95 people were seriously wounded last year, according to Greater Manchester police, and West Yorkshire police recorded 251 crimes where a firearm was fired causing injury.

Experts say the number of people admitted to hospital with gunshot injuries is much higher than those released by the government because many hospitals do not record the treatment of gunshot wounds, or the method of collecting data differs between hospitals.

Additional reporting: Ozge Ibrahim