Posted: 2/2/2001 7:10:01 AM EDT
Yard summit as gun crime peaks
by Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent
The scale of gun violence between feuding black drug gangs in London has
reached crisis levels with one shooting reported every other day.
Scotland Yard is now calling a summit of community leaders across London
in an effort to combat gun crime.
This month alone, there have been at least 13 attempted murders and two
killings between rival groups and individuals. In one 12-hour period
earlier this week, there were five shootings, including one death.
Commander Mike Fuller, head of Operation Trident, the specialist squad set
up to combat black gun crime, said: "There is no obvious reason for this
"The sheer scale has shocked us. I think there would be uproar if the
number of shootings that take place in black areas were to occur in
certain other parts of London."
He said he had called a crisis meeting of all prominent black community
leaders in London to discuss possible new ways of tackling the problem.
"We are getting a lot of community support and a lot of information but we
are looking for any constructive new ideas that we may have missed," he
In recent weeks officers from his 160-strong squad have seized three
sub-machine guns and eight handguns in London, compared with four
sub-machine guns in the whole of last year. Police are increasingly called
to reports of shootings only to find bullet holes in cars or houses, spent
cartridges and sometimes even blood.
The increase in shootings comes as Brent council launches a poster
campaign featuring a young black man shot through the face with a handgun
by his side. The posters, which read "Young, gifted and dead" will appear
in north London in an attempt to shock communities into action.
The Home Office-funded campaign is in stark contrast to the more "softly
softly" Trident police approach to win respect in the black community.
Mr Fuller said: "We believe in raising awareness and encouraging young
people to pass on information but there are risks in using shock tactics.
"We discussed using tactics like this at our lay advisory group but we
didn't go for it. The Met are keen not to heighten the fear of crime."
Brent was chosen because it has more shootings than any other area of
London. A Brent council spokesman said the poster was chosen by focus
groups. He said: "Yes, it is horrible for children to see this but it is a
lot more horrible that they could walk out of school and see this for
Mr Fuller said police were particularly concerned at the rise in the
number of "assassination style" weapons in London.
"However, London is not flooded with guns. You can't just hire one on any
street corner. In fact, it sometimes takes a couple of days, even if you
know the right person to approach."
Supt Stuart Low of Brent Police said: "The poster is very graphic and it
is a source of concern to us. We do not want to create alarm but the sad
reality is that this sort of violence has been with us for some while. Our
biggest problem is trying to unlock community intelligence. We have to
find new ways of getting the community on board."
Keith Johnson, whose brother Richard Parkinson was shot dead while working
as a security guard at a black music venue in April 1999, said: "The
poster is worth a try. It might get the message across but whether it will