Democratically-elected mayors or police commissioners could help fight gun crime such as the the killings which blighted the festive season, Conservative leader David Cameron said yesterday.

The Tory leader highlighted the spate murders over the Christmas period, which included a Birmingham man shot dead outside the King of the Road pub, in Newtown, Birmingham, on December 23.

He accused Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary and Redditch MP, of "staggering complacency" after she pointed out that gun crime was rare.

Mr Cameron set out a series of proposals to fight gun crime, including a drastic reduction in police paperwork.

But this meant creating a police service which was directly accountable to the public, he said.

Mr Cameron said: "We need to get our olice officers back on the street, getting on with the job they were trained to do and protecting the community they serve.

"This means having locally elected mayors or police commissioners, who are accountable to local people and provide the beat-based, zero-tolerance policing that everyone wants in their community.

"It means ensuring chief constables are permanently focused on the public's priorities rather than anything else.

"It means having a general bonfire of the targets and measurements which the police have to comply with, freeing forces up from the demands of Whitehall and trusting their judgment."

The Tory leader was speaking during a visit to Salford, close to Manchester where a man was shot dead on New Year's Eve.

He warned that the police would need to accept reform - but that society also needed to change. Mr Cameron said: "This phrase 'moral fabric of society' is something of a cliche, but it really does mean something.

"It's the idea that your status in the eyes of your relatives, friends and neighbours depended on living up to positive social expectations. And what we see now is a perversion of that.

"In many of our communities, a completely different set of social expectations dominates. Aggression is feted. Verbal abuse celebrated. Contempt for others rewarded."

He highlighted a series of Conservative policies to restore communities, including changes to the tax and benefits system to encourage parents to live together, giving head teachers the power to expel pupils who disrupt classes, and requiring the long term unemployed to accept community work.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was meeting the parents of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones, 11, shot dead in August last year as he walked home from football practice in Liverpool.

She also announced plans to ban deactivated guns by the end of the year.