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  1. System uses acoustic sensors to detect and locate where a gun has been fired. Pic courtesy of ShotSpotter Date - 29th March 2019 By - Nic Brunetti 1 Comment British police will consider using an American high-tech system that listens out for gunshots in cities to crack down on rising gun crime. The ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors, placed around a neighbourhood, to detect and locate where a gun has been fired. It enables officers to be despatched to the scene of a potential incident without a report from the public. Gun crime has been on the rise in London since 2014 when there were 1,755 incidents – climbing to 2,542 in 2017 – a 44 per cent increase. In the UK as a whole, gun crime incidents climbed to a high of 9,578 in March 2017, after initially falling year on year from 2003 to a low of 7,729 in 2014. Now academics believe the technology could provide an extra tool to the police in combatting firearm offenders, who they say often progress to the lethal weapons from knives. The tech has proved successful in the US, where many cities experience higher than average shootings, and just last year Chicago announced a new £23 million contract until 2021 to cover 100 square miles of the city. In Miami, Florida the homicide rate fell by 35 per cent in 2014 and gunshot incidents by 50 per cent as a result of the technology, the Mayor Francis Suarez said. Leading firearms forensic expert, Dr Rachel Bolton-King, who works with police bosses on technology including the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), has been granted almost £10,000 to explore new crime-fighting solutions for the UK, including the ShotSpotter, and will journey to US cities in the summer on a fact-finding mission. Her input could support a business case for the Metropolitan Police to try out the artificial intelligence solution – despite a failed trial back in 2012 in Birmingham. The Staffordshire University professor, 33, told Police Oracle: “We believe at the time (in Birmingham) the (lack of) occurrence of gun fire and possibly the chosen location of ShotSpotter meant we could not calibrate the system well enough to only detect gun fire. “Due to the increase in gun crime in London over the last year or so we believe there is now sufficient gun fire occurring to re-evaluate the potential success of implementing this system there. “However, we need significant evidence of the value of the system in other countries and identify the best practices and requirements for establishing an appropriate location of ShotSpotter within London.” The technology had proved costly in Birmingham. According to West Midlands Police, it was around £150,000 to install and a further £40,000 to monitor per year. Chief executive officer of ShotSpotter, Ralph A Clark, said the price had since come down and it was charging $100,000 per square mile for the whole year, on a subscription basis. He added that the tech had ‘vastly improved’ since then and the company had had ‘intermittent’ discussions with the Met. David Tucker, lead for crime and criminal justice at the College of Policing, the professional police body in the UK, welcomed the proposal but said the jury was still out on whether the technology would prevent crime. He said: “Gun crime in England and Wales is relatively low although we are concerned about the rising number of allegations. “This technology won’t prevent a shooting but it could enable a more rapid response and investigation. “However, the use of any tool or tactic in fighting crime needs to be based on its effectiveness balanced against its cost. “The College will be interested to see how the technology benefits investigation and whether it has any prevention impact. “With this knowledge it may be possible to judge whether police forces’ investment in this technology is worthy of consideration.” Dr Bolton-King will examine how the tech is working in Oakland, Stockton and Sacramento, California before flying off to South Africa to see how it is applied there. She will be looking for examples of best practice in a bid to put right what had gone wrong in the first UK trial. Up to 80 per cent of all gun crime is never reported, according to a US report from the Urban Institute. This is down to a number of reasons, including the public failing to report incidents due to fear, not seeing them in the first place, and firearms discharges where there are no victims. In the case of a criminal ‘trying out a gun’ in a back alley, the technology could potentially detect the gunshot and send officers to the scene to arrest or gather intelligence from left over bullets or cartridges, which can be matched via a gun crime database. The Met refused to comment on works in progress. The London Assembly concluded in a 2018 report that ‘most gun crime was linked to drugs and gangs’ in the capital. Dr Bolton-King added: “If you look at the national statistics, UK gun crime is still relatively low, but when we look at gun crime in major cities like London, Liverpool and Birmingham, the percentages are starting to rise significantly. “It is putting significant pressure on our resources and on our police forces to keep up with that. “Hopefully we can use my findings to support business cases for new technology or to raise public awareness of how to work with forces to detect gun crime.” View On Police Oracle
  2. National lead for organised crime warns there are not enough police officers to prevent more illegal guns reaching UK streets. File photo of a Border Force officer. Photo credit: PA Date - 28th December 2018 By - Hayden Smith Police and border officials are struggling to stem the rise in illegal guns being smuggled into the UK, a leading police chief has warned. Chief Constable Andy Cooke, the national police lead for serious and organised crime, said the rising supply of weapons - many coming in from eastern Europe - was expected to continue due to the scale of the problem. The situation has become so serious the National Crime Agency (NCA) has used its legal powers to direct every police force in England and Wales to step up its efforts in providing intelligence on the supply of guns, The Guardian reported. Mr Cooke told the newspaper: "We in law enforcement expect the rise in new firearms to continue. "We are doing all we can. We are not in a position to stop it anytime soon." Mr Cooke said efforts to tackle the issue had been "hampered" by a fall in the number of police officers and the resulting reduction in proactive work to "keep these criminals on the back foot". According to the NCA, many weapons are bought in eastern Europe where they are legal and unrestricted. They may then be transported to the Netherlands, where Dutch organised crime groups negotiate the sale to a British buyer. The illicit cargo is then smuggled into the UK via ferry ports, train stations and postal hubs, often concealed inside vehicles or parcels. Guns are also being bought on the dark web. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics for the year ending June 2018 showed a five per cent decrease in offences involving firearms, to 6,362. Figures released earlier in the year showed an 11 per cent increase to the end of December 2017. Mr Cooke said he believed serious and organised crime was one of the two greatest threats to national security, alongside terrorism. "Nationally, we need to ensure serious and organised crime gets the same funding as the terrorist threat," he added. Official figures released this week showed the number of knives seized by Border Force doubled in a year. Their officers took possession of 7,668 bladed items in the year to September - compared with 3,800 in the previous 12 months. Border Force also registered a jump in the number of other "offensive weapons" it seized, rising by 61 per cent from 4,056 to 6,534. The combined haul of 14,202 was almost double the 7,856 knives and weapons confiscated by the agency in the year before. The figures cover seizures made at all points of entry to the UK. Detailed breakdowns are not published, but the Home Office said the majority of knives and offensive weapons are seized in postal, fast parcel and freight modes. Border Force "transparency data" published in November also showed the number of "lethal" firearms seized more than halved year-on-year from 1,285 to 594. But the quantity of "non-lethal" firearms seized increased by a third to 2,418 in the year to September, meaning the combined total was broadly stable at just over 3,000. A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Tackling the illegal smuggling of offensive weapons is a priority for Border Force. "Last year (October 2017 - September 2018), officers prevented more than 14,000 knives and other offensive weapons and over 3,000 firearms reaching the streets of the UK. "We work closely with intelligence colleagues, as well as other law enforcement agencies, to ensure that frontline work is focused on the areas of highest risk and emerging trends are quickly identified. "Where possible offences are identified, we will not hesitate to pass on information to assist police forces or the National Crime Agency. "We also run regular intensification exercises at the border as well as awareness raising campaigns to inform holidaymakers returning from locations where knives and batons are sold without restriction that they cannot be imported into the UK." The findings come amid intense concern over serious violence, and knife crime in particular. London has been particularly badly hit by bloodshed, while national figures show forces in England and Wales have registered a jump in recorded homicides and offences involving a knife or sharp instrument. Ministers have announced a number of measures designed to combat the rise in violent crime. A key plank of the crackdown is the Offensive Weapons Bill, which includes a proposed ban on delivering potentially dangerous bladed items to a buyer's home following warnings that age-verification checks can be sidestepped online. View On Police Oracle
  3. Chiefs agree that introducing capability is 'crucial' and say it is being worked on. A national system for monitoring the whereabouts of firearms officers from outside forces at major incidents will be introduced, chiefs say. It follows concerns about public safety raised by a review into the Manchester Arena bombing. Armed response vehicles deployed to the city to help Greater Manchester Police with last May’s attack were not trackable on local force computer systems. The same issue was raised in a review into the police response to the 2010 Cumbria shootings when 12 people were murdered and 11 injured by a lone gunman. The NPCC say addressing the gap is “crucial” and is being worked on by several teams. Lord Kerslake's review into the response in Manchester said: “Whilst GMP operates an automatic resource location system for its personnel and assets, neighbouring police forces do not use the same IT systems, so their personnel and assets could not be tracked on the GMP system.” It acknowledged that there was no detriment to the operation due to this but said there are potential for risks to public safety. Lord Kerslake added: “Given that, at least initially, some of the additional incidents on the night of the attack appeared to bear the hallmarks of an escalating and distributed terrorist attack, there was a pressing need to be able to deploy armed assets from outside GMP to these incidents. “In these instances, it is the panel’s opinion that the force duty officer’s inability to monitor the location of responding armed response vehicles and other armed personnel on a national system could easily have introduced avoidable risks to public and responder safety (e.g. because the force duty officer did not know which was the closest asset to deploy).” Eight years on from the Cumbria shootings, he said the issue is a national one which needs to be addressed. An NPCC spokesman said: “It is crucial that our force duty officers have the ability to track the whereabouts of armed response vehicles deployed under mutual aid from other forces, to ensure the fastest and most effective response to any incident or emergency. “A number of NPCC portfolios and specialist working groups have been striving to identify long term solutions to this issue for some time, and excellent progress is being made. “But as with any national IT or infrastructure project, it will take time to identify and implement systems which work for all of our forces.” View On Police Oracle

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