This question about guns!
Pat, Bristol: How can gun related crime be reduced? Was it an error to ban handguns, as this seems to have had no noticeable effect on reducing gun-related crime?
Barry, Edinburgh, Scotland: Perhaps if police began carrying firearms, many of the young thugs responsible for these street crimes would be discouraged from doing so again. Is this the solution?
Marion, I think most police officers would say no, wouldn't they?
I think they wouldn't want to and I think we enter dangerous territory there. There is very little difference in our crimes rates with those of the United States except for homicide and that is simply because of the enormously greater availability of guns in the States and the fact that the police carry them. Tempting as it may be, I would be very, very frightened of the implications of going too far down that road.
Zaki, as a defence lawyer, do you think that guns are becoming an increasing factor in violent crime from what you see every day in the courts?
Yes, absolutely. One thing I've certainly noticed over the last five years or so is an increase in the use of crack cocaine and a parallel increase in a gun culture in London and no doubt in other cities in the United Kingdom as well. Guns and crack cocaine have come together.
The police take all gun crimes extremely seriously. There are, I think, about 250 police officers involved in the Operation Trident project to deal with black on black gun crime. But putting police on the streets with guns - or putting more police on the street with guns is not going to act as a deterrent for people who are prepared to use guns in the first place. And as it happens there are perhaps a surprisingly large number of police officers on the streets of London carrying guns in any event and I don't believe that an increased number of armed police officers is going to solve the problem of gun culture in this country in itself.
What about criminals suddenly turning up ventilated? Would that provide a deterrant?
That's PERSEC, not OPSEC. -AvengeR15