Firearm offences halve – five times more knives than guns used in crime

Destroyed firearms, seized during Operation Cannington, the biggest hoard of illegal weapons ever un

Destroyed firearms, seized during Operation Cannington, the biggest hoard of illegal weapons ever uncovered in the UK, at Wyverstone in 2014 Picture: SIMON PARKER

Gun crime more than halved across Suffolk over the last year, according to new figures.

The use of knives in crime also fell by 40% – but outnumbered gun offences by more than five times.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on Home Office crime data, showed a 57% fall in firearms offences to 27 – from a decade high of 63 – between the years ending March 2017 and March 2018.

Gun crime was at it lowest rate since the end of 2014, when just 16 offences were recorded.

The rate per 100,000 population (four) was less than half the average in England and Wales (11).

Offences include any notifiable crime in which the weapon has been fired, used as a blunt instrument or used as a threat.

The 63 recorded in 2016/17 was the highest number in the last decade – during which a total of 325 offences have been recorded.

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A Suffolk police spokesman said: “Firearm crime remains comparatively low across Suffolk.

“Armed officers are constantly on patrol in the county and are specifically trained to deal with any incident where a firearm is reported to have been seen.

“In a number of cases, a suspect is identified, traced and dealt with, and officers are committed to doing everything possible to keep people safe.

“Proper care should be taken to reduce the risk of lawfully held guns from falling into the hands of criminals.

“We will always look to prosecute those people considering using imitation weapons to commit crime or cause fear of violence against others.”

A 40% fall was recorded in offences involving knives or sharp objects, from 245 to 146.

Figures excluded offensive weapons possession, which previously released data revealed had increased by 13% to 385.

The rate of knives involved in crimes (19 per 100,000) was also significantly lower than the average of 69, while the offensive weapons possession rate of 50 was closer to the average of 70.

Crimes involving the use of knives are defined as including homicide, attempted murder, threats to kill, assault, robbery, rape and sexual assault.

A police spokesman said regular proactive operations were carried out as part of an ongoing commitment to take knives and weapons off the streets, including intelligence-led deployments, weapons sweeps and high-visibility patrols.

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