Firearm Discharged up to Every Six Hours in ‘Gun-Free’ London

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: (EDITORS NOTE: Part of this image has been pixellated to obscure identity)Suspects are detained and searched by police officers after being arrested for alleged possession of a dangerous weapon near Elephant and Castle Station during Operation Sceptre on July 12, 2017 in London, England. Operation …
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A think tank has called for an increase in police ‘stop and search’ in London to tackle the crime epidemic after it revealed that a gun is shot in the capital up to every six hours — despite the UK having some of the strictest personal firearms ownership laws in the world.

The report, It Can Be Stopped, published by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on Monday, examined the average number of days between a gun being fired across London and found that the “figures equate to a reported gun discharge almost every day (every 27 hours)”.

“However, we have heard evidence as part of our work to suggest that a significant volume of gun discharges and gun crimes go unreported.”

Considering underreporting, the think tank estimated that, in fact, “London’s gun crime figures would mean a gun discharge in London every 6 to 9 hours”.

The findings come after London’s police forces launched their 100th homicide investigation of 2018 last week, with the capital on course to break its 2017 murder total of 116.

Under the city’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, the capital has seen a 16.3 percent rise in gun crime and a 31.3 percent rise in knife crime incidents with an increase in the number of minors involved with gangs.

In 2014, then-Home Secretary Theresa May curbed police stop and search powers in response to pressure from left-wing activists who claimed the tactic unfairly targetted young, black men while police maintained it actually saved black lives.

Mayor Khan was forced to backtrack his own pledge to end stop and search in the capital at the beginning of this year amidst rising crime.

The report notes that there are around 70,000 gang members across Britain and that “gangs are responsible for as much as half of all knife crime with injury [and] 60 per cent of shootings” with the police estimating that there are up to 250 gangs and 4,500 members in London alone.

The CSJ proposes that to solve weapon-based and gang crime, the police need to increase stop and search, writing: “Education programmes, mentoring, youth work, and more can all help deliver messages that dissuade the carrying of weapons and change behaviour – but the single most effective and immediate action to increase the chances that those who carry knives and weapons on the street are caught is to increase the levels of stop and search in London.”

“The evidence base also tells us that increasing the risk of being caught can help reduce crime, reinforcing the importance of upping the ante for those carrying weapons,” the report adds.

Chairman of the CSJ and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: “Stop and search does two things. It tells the gangs they cannot move their guns and drugs around, making their lives much more difficult.

“People claim ‘it’s not fair’, but who are the communities affected by this the most? It’s the poorest communities in our country.

“It means shops close, people don’t go on the street, kids who want nothing to do with the gang feel threatened.”

Of those polled by the think tank, 89 percent thought that increasing stop and search was somewhat or very important while 70 percent backed the idea of police using the powers even when there is no reasonable suspicion of criminality.

In addition, three-quarters of Londoners told researchers that the capital had “become less safe and almost half describ[ed] ‘no go’ areas near where they live that they cannot safely go to or travel through”.

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