Join Date: 03-21-10
A Home Office study published in 2007 reported that gun crime in England and Wales remained a relatively rare event. Firearms (including air guns) were used in 21,521 recorded crimes. It said that injury caused during a firearm offence was rare, with fewer than 3% of offences resulting in a serious or fatal injury.
The number of homicides per year committed with firearms remained between 49 and 97 in the eight years to 2006. There were two fatal shootings of police officers in England and Wales in this period, and 107 non-fatal shootings - an average of 9.7 per year over the same period. In 2005/6 the police in England and Wales reported 50 gun homicides, a rate of 0.1 illegal gun deaths per 100,000 of population. 6.6% of homicides involved the use of a firearm.
The overall homicide rates per 100,000 (regardless of weapon type) reported by the United Nations for 1999 were 4.55 for the U.S. and 1.45 in England and Wales. The homicide rate in England and Wales at the end of the 1990s was below the EU average, but the rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the EU average.
While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998/99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003/04, and fell to 21,521 in 2005/06. The latter includes 3,275 crimes involving imitation firearms and 10,437 involving air weapons, compared to 566 and 8,665 respectively in 1998/99. Only those "firearms" positively identified as being imitations or air weapons (e.g., by being recovered by the police or by being fired) are classed as such, so the actual numbers are likely significantly higher. In 2005/06, 8,978 of the total of 21,521 firearms crimes (42%) were for criminal damage.
Compared with the United States of America, the United Kingdom has a slightly higher total crime rate per capita of approximately 85 per 1000 people, while in the USA it is approximately 80.
Since 1998, the number of people injured by firearms in England and Wales increased by 110%, from 2,378 in 1998/99 to 5,001 in 2005/06. Most of the rise in injuries were in the category slight injuries from the non-air weapons. "Slight" in this context means an injury that was not classified as "serious" (i.e., did not require detention in hospital, did not involve fractures, concussion, severe general shock, penetration by a bullet or multiple shot wounds). In 2005/06, 87% of such injuries were defined as "slight," which includes the use of firearms as a threat only. In 2007, the British government was accused by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis of making "inaccurate and misleading" statements claiming that gun crime was falling, after official figures showed that gun-related killings and injuries recorded by police had risen more than fourfold since 1998, mainly due to a rise in non-fatal injuries. In 2007, Justice Minister Jack Straw told the BBC, "We are concerned that within the overall record, which is a good one, of crime going down in the last 10-11 years, the number of gun-related incidents has gone up. But it has now started to fall."
In 2008 The Independent reported that there were 42 gun-related deaths in Great Britain, a 20-year low. However, in late 2009 The Telegraph reported that gun crime had doubled in the last 10 years, with an increase in both firearms offences and deaths. A government spokesman said this increase was a result of a change in reporting practices in 2001 and that gun crime had actually fallen since 2005. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary (an opposition party spokesperson), attributed the rise to ineffective policing and an out-of-control gang culture. Writing in the British Journal of Criminology, Dr Jeanine Baker and Dr Samara McPhedran analys found no measurable effect detectable from the 1997 firearms legislation with ARIMA statistical is.