Over the last fortnight, we’ve all seen the shocking consequences of how the most innocent can caught up in gun crime, following the horrific shooting of nine year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in her own home in Liverpool.
It was the third fatal shooting in the space of four days in the city and I send my condolences to everyone who’s been affected by these terrible and senseless deaths.
Here in Wiltshire, we’re lucky that we don’t face the same level of gun crime on our streets. However, there are criminals within our communities who are willing to use firearms, imitation and real, as protection or to intimidate and frighten their victims. The risk to the wider public is low but vigilance and sharing information with the police is vital to making sure these people are dealt with.
What became clear very quickly after all three shootings in Liverpool was the importance of local communities standing together and speaking up in an effort to find those responsible.
The intelligence gathered from local people, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at the time, is vital and could be the key to cracking a drugs gang or putting a dangerous criminal behind bars.
You’ll be aware that a firearm was recently found in a play area in Swindon. I shudder to think what would have happened if it had been picked up by a child and used in any way. These are the weapons which need to be found and destroyed.
Recently I joined a raid where, as well as a number of mobile phones and fake watches, two air rifles and four imitation hand guns were also discovered.
The message from me is simple. The more information the police has about people who carry these weapons with the aim to use them maliciously, the faster they will be able to apprehend.
Over the last few weeks, our armed response teams have received a number of call outs to incidents involving armed assaults across the county. Let me reassure you that whilst the need for them to use their weapons is rare, we have a dedicated and skilled team whose response is swift when the need arises.
I doubt that we will ever face the same scale of gun crime which is seen in places like Liverpool, Birmingham and London but by working together, we can make sure that the tragic occurrences we’ve seen recently don’t happen here in Wiltshire.
Published Monday 5 September
Watch what happened to firearms which were surrended as part of a national campaign earlier this year