Concern at rising level of gun crime

Wednesday, 4 July, 2007

GUN crime in Suffolk is increasing at an 'alarming' rate and is double the rate of Norfolk, an MP has warned.

Fifty-eight firearms offences were recorded in the county in 2005-6 compared to 29 in Norfolk and 34 in Cambridgeshire.

The figures were obtained by Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley who said gun crime had rocketed by more than 1,000% in Suffolk since 1997 when only five incidents were recorded.

The Conservative MP has now written to Suffolk police's new Chief Constable Simon Ash asking him to explain the rise.

Mr Ruffley said: 'The apparent increase in Suffolk gun crime is deeply alarming.

'For Suffolk to have gone from having the lowest level of gun crime in the East of England in 1997 to having nearly twice the level seen in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in 2005-6 gives me real cause for concern.

'It would appear, on face value, that Suffolk has an increasing problem with gun crime. The county, on average, sees over one crime a week involving the use of firearms.'

He added: 'Although we are talking about reasonably small numbers, the fact that Suffolk has gone from having five gun crimes a year to nearly 60, in such a short period of time, tells me that more needs to be done to combat gun crime in our county.

'The people of Suffolk deserve to feel safe as they conduct their day to day lives and they will derive little comfort from these figures.'

Nationally, gun crime has increased by 126% since 1997.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Henwood, of Suffolk police, said: 'This figure is very much in line with the national trend, and includes a small number of incidents where people were hurt or killed by someone using a firearm and other incidents where weapons were used to make threats or were recovered or seized by officers.

'Suffolk is a safe county and these incidents fortunately remain comparatively rare, however police are not complacent and are continually working to gather intelligence on the illegal possession of firearms. 'Anyone who has information about anyone illegally having a gun, or with information on gun-related crime, should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers, anonymously if required, on 0800 555 111.'