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Call for Tougher Action on Gun Crime

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12 May 2005

Reports out yesterday documented a record high number of gun killings in London with a fourfold increase in shootings last month.

Commenting, Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, today said: “These figures are extremely alarming and I urge the government to act quickly to reverse this trend.”

Diane Abbott, who is also the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group and Gun Crime, added: “The wide availability and relatively lenient sentences for gun possession is reflected in this surge of gun crime in London. Today’s figures confirm what the APPG on gun crime has long recognised, namely that much stricter legislation and enforcement procedures are needed.”

Abbott continued: “My London constituency in Hackney has one of the highest levels of gun crime in the country. But the problem is no longer confined to inner city areas. Gun crime has spread to communities all over Britain.”

Abbott explained: “Gun crime is a major cause of fear and distress throughout the UK. The problem is deeply entrenched in a wide range of social and cultural factors and therefore not an isolated issue. Many young people carrying real or imitation firearms do so in a mistaken attempt to either boost their image, or from a misguided idea about self-protection.  In addition, most London shootings involve members of the black community and are often related to deprivation, gang rivalry or the illegal drug trade”.

“Measures aimed at combating gun crime must be responsive to the diverse causes of gun rime and include education of youngsters, extending witness protection schemes, better control of illegal import of weapons and the tightening of controls relating to real and imitation guns”.

Abbott concluded: "I welcome the 5 year mandatory sentence for carrying a real gun but urge the 6 months sentence for replica gun offences to be toughened. I call on a Labour government to include these necessary measures in their Violent Crime Reduction Bill as pledged."

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