Birmingham was thrust into Gordon Brown's war on gun crime yesterday as it was named among four "hotspot" cities where police will get hand-held weapon scanners.

The Prime Minister also said officers would be given portable computers to cut down on paperwork so they can spend more time on the beat.

About 1,000 computers are being issued now, and 10,000 will be in use by next year, according to Mr Brown.

Mr Brown told the Labour conference at Bournemouth: "We took the right decision to ban handguns, and now we need to deal with the illegal supply of guns.

"Two-thirds of deaths from gun crime occur in just four cities."

Fears over gun and knife crime have been running high, with a series of high-profile murders of young children and teenagers. Mr Brown insisted no parent should have to suffer like the family of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, who was shot dead in Liverpool last month.

As well as Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Greater Manchester have been identified as areas where urgent action is needed.

A Home Office spokeswoman later said the hand-held weapons scanners would be metal detector "wands" which are used at some airports and are already being piloted by some forces.

The portable computers are already being trialled by five forces, she added. They give officers the ability to access the Police National Computer and fill in forms while on the beat.

Mr Brown said local drives to reduce gun and knife crime would be backed up with national work by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, tightening of smuggling through borders, and education programmes in schools.

Powers allowing police to quickly close down "crack houses" would be rolled out across the country, in a bid to eradicate the "evil of drugs".

However, he insisted changes in social attitudes were also crucial to tackling crime.

"Preventing crime for me also means all of us as a community setting boundaries between what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour - with clear penalties for stepping over the line."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said: "In a welcome contrast from his predecessor, the Prime Minister looks to existing police powers rather than running to the statute book with new ones."

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry welcomed many of the proposals but said: "The only question police officers will now be asking is where is the money coming from to pay for all these initiatives?

"Is it new money? A fair question to ask at a time when Mr Brown is seeking to cut our pay."