Amid mounting domestic violence in Britain, the West Midlands has been named as “the nation’s gun crime capital” after figures showed high firearms offences per head in the region.
The Latest hotly disputed figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the West Midlands currently has a higher rate of firearms offences for its population than London.
According to the ONS figures, there were 540 firearms offences in the West Midlands in 2013-14, three times fewer than the 1,594 incidents in London.
However, the West Midlands has a rate of 19.4 incidents compared to 18.95 in London when it comes to a comparison with per 100,000 of the population.
There were 41 more firearms offences in the West Midlands in 2014 compared to the previous year, showing that the region accounted for one in nine acts of gun crime carried out in England and Wales.
However, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson of West Midlands police dismissed the figures as misleading.
A quarter of the total 540 offences related to air weapons indicated that the figures also include incidents in which a firearm may not actually have been used, he said.
Thompson said with 37 incidents in which a weapon was actually fired, the region has relatively low discharge rates in comparison with other similarly-sized cities.
There have been no gun-related murders in the West Midlands so far in the year to March, ONS said, adding such an incident happened for the first time for about 20 years.
“We do have a gun crime problem but actually if we’re saying people are getting shot with guns, that’s not really what’s going on,” Thompson said.
He added, “With the level of work that’s gone on in the last few years, gun crime is really a pale shadow of what it used to be, but you can never take your eye off it because it can very quickly catch up with you again as a problem.”
Police officers hold regular briefings in schools around the city in a bid to stop children falling into the traps of gangs and guns culture.