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Guns 'out of control' as robberies soar
9:31am Friday 26th January 2007 in News
Labour was accused last night of losing control of gun crime as figures showed a sharp rise in armed robberies.
Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year - a ten per cent jump - including a nine per cent rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.
There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their homes by armed criminals.
Residential firearms robberies show a 46 per cent leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales - up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.
The Home Office report shows that handguns are the most commonly used firearm in robberies, reported in 2,888 cases.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said of the figures: "This shows Labour is losing control of gun crime across the board, whether it be on the street or in innocent people's homes.
"Gun crime is mainly fuelled by gang warfare and drug addiction, which is a consequence of Labour's failing drugs policy.
"It is exacerbated by our porous borders, which allow illegal weapons to flow into the country."
Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said: "We have some of the toughest firearms legislation in Europe."
Parallel figures from the British Crime Survey (BCS) - which ministers say is a more reliable indicator of crime trends - show a 14 per cent surge in theft from the person.
The number of thefts reported by people interviewed for the survey increased to 626,000 in the year to the end of September, up from 552,000 in the previous 12 months.
The Home Office said this rise was "not statistically significant".
The survey also shows a sharp rise in vandalism, up 11 per cent to 2,918,000 incidents.
Total recorded crime fell by three per cent, but drug offences increased by nine per cent.
The overall number of crimes reported to the BCS is 11,138,000, up four per cent on the previous year, which the Home Office also said was "not statistically significant".
Overall, violent crime in the survey rose by two per cent to 2,440,000, although within that total, incidents involving injuries fell by nine per cent.
Domestic burglary reported to the survey fell by four per cent to 709,000 and also dropped by three per cent in recorded crime figures.
The Government's campaign against anti-social behaviour was dealt a blow as results show that people are becoming more worried about the problem in four out of seven categories used to measure results.
The risk of becoming a victim of crime increased from 23 to 24 per cent, but the Home Office said it remained historically low after peaking at 40 in 1995.