Birmingham is in the grip of the worst gun crimewave in five years, the region’s top policeman has admitted – and shootings are happening with “concerning regularity.”
Dave Thompson, who takes over as Chief Constable next week, told the West Midlands Police and Crime Board yesterday that he had not seen as many shootings in the five years that he has been with the force.
He said that gun crime had “come back” and that he was growing increasingly concerned about the availability of weapons and ammunition on the streets.
But the current Deputy Chief Constable also vowed to take on the gun gangsters, saying he was confident that those responsible for the spate of recent shootings would be brought to justice with support from local communities.
Speaking about the rise in gun crime, Mr Thompson admitted: “It’s fair to say that the problem has come back and we need to re-double our efforts.
“We have had some very serious incidents and there has been a concerning regularity of shootings that I have not seen in the five years that I have been here.
“There is a concern from me that there are more weapons or more ammunition available.”
He acknowledged that the Christmas period had seen “quite a rise” in violent crime and there had been rises in various crime areas like burglary in the last two months.
But he remained confident that his officers would be able to bring those responsible to justice, and said lots of work was going on in the background to combat gun crime.
“The general sense is that most of the gun crime that we have seen is largely involving urban street gangs and it often centres around drugs or personal conflicts,” he explained.
“However, innocent members of the public have a right not to be threatened by gun crime.
“The most corrosive element about gun crime is the view from the public that people are not being caught.
“But there has been some really good work going on and I have a huge amount of confidence that we stand a strong chance of bringing people to justice for these recent firearm incidents.
“There is also a lot of work going on about the availability of firearms and ammunition. The availability and type of guns are not sophisticated and we have seen a rise in the use of antique firearms.
“We are still talking about relatively small numbers, but I welcome the concerns from the communities because gun crime should not be tolerated.
“There will be steps that we need to take to bring people to justice, but we can’t do that without public support.
“There has been some good engagement with communities so far where there has been shootings and we are also redoubling the work we have been doing around gangs.
“We need to make sure we are focused and we need strong partnerships to make sure there is an intolerance to this type of crime.”