"We have to balance enforcing lockdown with increasing gun crime on UK streets": Police union chief

28 September 2020, 14:41

By Fiona Jones

Police Federation chair John Apter told LBC about the difficulties of having to police both lockdown and gun crime after figures have shown there is a 27% increase in offences involving firearms.

Gun crime has increased by 4% in one year with more than 9,700 crimes involving firearms taking place in the UK, Home Office and National Crime Agency statistics have shown.

Mr Apter said: "That might seem a small number but we are not a gun-focused culture within this country so when you contextualise it, there's been a 27% increase in offences involving fire-arms in the United Kingdom.

"My colleagues see the consequences of this out on the streets and the gang culture and the drugs are driving this," he said, telling Nick that in some gangs "the bigger the gun the more power you have."

The federation chair countered that in a positive step, the police are seizing "far more firearms" which is bolstered by the efforts from the National Crime Agency and local policing.

Figures have shown there is a 27% increase in offences involving firearms, John Apter tells Nick
Figures have shown there is a 27% increase in offences involving firearms, John Apter tells Nick. Picture: LBC

Nick asked how officers could be tracking down those with guns when they are having to direct their attention to those breaking lockdown rules.

"It's all about priorities I'm afraid," Mr Apter replied, "What we have now is we are policing normal policing, the 999 calls, the violent disorders, the murders...but we're also policing the pandemic.

"I spoke to the Home Secretary yesterday about this because there is a drive for more enforcement, I get that, there are more people dying from the virus, there's a second wave coming, we're told that by the experts, so policing needs to play its part.

"There's a real fine balance between that and policing by consent and the vast majority of the public are doing what they expect them to do.

"What we must do is target those who are wilfully disobeying the law and hit them with fines."