A regional daily newspaper has launched a new campaign calling for tougher laws on gun crime.
Flagship title the Liverpool Echo created Guns Off Our Streets following 25 gun-related deaths in Merseyside in the last seven years.
The issue was first highlighted in 2007 following the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in a car park. The gunman had been firing at someone else and Rhys walked straight into the line of fire.
More recent incidents have also included shots fired outside a primary school, and then eight gun-related attacks in nine days.
Liverpool Echo executive editor Andrew Campbell said: “The 2007 murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones was a chilling reminder of the danger of guns on our streets.
“Five years on we’re seeing an escalation in the number of shootings and the number of guns as rival Merseyside gangs – often exploiting disaffected teenagers to do their dirty work – battle for control of the drugs trade.
“Enough is enough. We’re urging readers to help with the flow of information to police, calling for tougher gun laws and seeking longer sentences for gang members caught with weapons designed to do just one thing – kill.”
The campaign, launched with Crimestoppers and Merseyside Police, has four stated aims, including increasing the amount of tip-offs and community intelligence on guns and gun crime.
Out of 30 shootings, only four victims actually spoke to the police while the rest totally refused to co-operate with some – along with their families – openly abusing the officers trying to help them.
Other aims of the campaign include reducing the number of gun attacks in Merseyside and guns in circulation, and a review of sentencing for gun crime to take into account bad character, gang affiliations and the type of weapon used.
The Echo also wants to see the introduction of a new law to cover ‘gun possession with intent to supply to another’ to bring about tougher sentences for those who say they are “just minding” weapons for others.
Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Jon Murphy, backed the newspaper as his force launched a new strategy –’Relentless’.
He told the Echo that police were now dealing with a younger, more volatile offender now who are either incapable of rationalising the outcome of their actions or they just don’t care.