Government Must Tackle North Wales Gun Crime Rise

2007 Chwefror 22 12:20 PM

Today, as Tony Blair hosts a special London gun crime summit at No.10, the Welsh Liberal Democrats warned that the Government needs to get to grips with the growing level of gun crime in North Wales that has increased more than fourteen fold over the last 5 years.

Commenting, Jenny Willott MP said:

"These figures are deeply worrying. Five years ago, North Wales had the lowest level of gun crime in Wales, one of the lowest in the UK. Since then, gun crime levels having risen fourteen fold making it the most at risk area of Wales from firearm offences.

"While the rest of Wales has seen the number of firearm offences come down in recent years, in North Wales, it has continually increased. Gun crime in North Wales is more common than in police force areas that include Newcastle, Hull, Bristol and Southampton.

"The Government needs to respond carefully to this rising level of gun crime in North Wales and in many other areas of the UK. This must begin with the completion of the National Gun Register. It is utterly appalling that, almost 11 years after Dunblane and 10 years after the National Firearms Act was passed, it is still not up and running.

"Fear of being caught is the greatest deterrent to crime and this means more bobbies on the beat. But in the last 6 months alone, North Wales Police has seen its force numbers cut by nearly 50 - the largest cut of any police force in the UK - and the Government has already left Wales 430 Community Support Officers short of its original target.

"We need to boost police numbers and setup specialised, dedicated police, community and youth worker cells across the country that work to intervene early, targeting vulnerable individuals before they turn to a life of crime. Pilot projects like this have had real success in cutting crime.

"Knee-jerk reactions like lowering the age that the mandatory 5 year sentence for firearm offences applies will not help. Judges should set sentences based on the individual circumstances of each case and the limited use of plea-bargaining may be necessary for the police to gather solid intelligence."

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