What do we mean when we refer to firearms offences?
Firearms are generally split into two main types: those that use a controlled explosion to fire a projectile, and those that use air. Types of firearm include handguns, shotguns, rifles, imitation weapons and air weapons.
How many offences in England and Wales involve the use of firearms?
Offences involving the use of a firearm consitute a small proportion of recorded crime. In 2008/09, firearms were used in just 0.3 per cent of all recorded crimes, or one in every 330.
Overall, firearms were reported to have been used in 14,250 recorded crimes in 2008/09, an 18 per cent decrease on 2007/08, and the fifth consecutive annual fall.
Is the use of firearms in crime growing?
No. Firearm offences, excluding air weapons, decreased by 17 per cent, to 8,208. In fact, firearms offences have fallen since peaking at 24,094 in 2003/04, and have decreased by 41 per cent since then.
How many people are killed due to the use of firearms in the course of an offence?
There were 39 fatal injuries resulting from offences that involved firearms in 2008/09. This was the lowest rate recorded by the police in 20 years. Fatal and serious injuries also decreased by 20 per cent (from 541 in 2007/08 to 432 in 2008/09).
Overall, firearm offences involving any type of injury were down by 41 per cent in 2008/09, from 4,164 in 2007/08 to 2,458 in 2008/09.
What type of firearms are used in offending?
Handguns were used in 4,275 offences during 2008/09 (an increase of 2 per cent on 2007/08).
How likely is it that offenders will open fire if they are armed?
Firearms (with the exception of air weapons), were fired in 33 per cent of the offences in which they were involved. The chances of a weapon being fired varies by weapon type. Handguns were fired in ten per cent of the recorded offences in which they were involved, and used as a threat in 83 per cent of offences. Shotguns were fired in 41 per cent of cases.
Is the use of firearms during robberies becoming more frequent?
The number of firearm robberies fell by 10 per cent in 2008/09.
Where in England and Wales are firearms most likely to be used?
Firearm offences were geographically concentrated in just three police force areas: Metropolitan, Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Sixty per cent of all non-air weapon firearm offences in England and Wales in 2008/09 occurred in these three police force areas(although just under a quarter of the country's population live in these three areas).
Source: Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2008/09 (Second Edition) published 2010 published by the Home Office