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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gun trade gangs 'could face life'

 Home Secretary Theresa May is considering bringing in a new offence of possession of an illegal fire

Gang members who trade in guns could face life in jail under Government proposals to tackle inner-city violence.

Gang members who trade in guns could face life in jail under Government proposals to tackle inner-city violence.


Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to outline the plans in a package of measures designed to crack down on the middle men who import the guns which are said to be fuelling youth violence. The move follows concerns the same guns are being traded between gangs and used in a series of different attacks.


Mrs May is considering bringing in a new offence of possession of an illegal firearm with intent to supply, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Police chiefs have previously called for such a move, saying there was a small number of firearms in circulation that are used on a frequent basis.


The proposals could also see anyone convicted of illegally importing weapons face up to 14 years in prison, instead of the current 10.


This comes after ministers held an international conference on gangs at the Home Office earlier this month and spoke to a series of police forces across England and Wales about the powers they have to tackle the problems.


The Government's response to a report on gangs and violence is expected to say gangs cannot simply be seen as an issue for the police - other agencies, including health, education, housing and job centres, should see preventing violence as part of their broader aims too.


A scheme to be announced by the Home Office and the Work and Pensions department will include controversial "call-ins" for gang members who have not yet committed any crime. They are taken into a courtroom where a judge warns them about potential penalties, and families of victims of gang-related violence describe their experiences.


Outlining elements of the new strategy, Mrs May said troubled toddlers could even be targeted in an attempt to stop them taking the wrong path, saying: "It's at that age you sometimes identify a troubled youngster."


She told The Sun: "If you look at case studies of youngsters who got involved in gang violence, very often there are lots of points in time at which, if someone had done something, that young person's life could have been changed. That goes for primary schools, hospitals, children's services, and even housing departments. This isn't just a problem for the police."


The Home Secretary revealed that ?11 million of Government funds would be used to create a 100-strong task force who will enforce the anti-gang blueprint across the UK. She also said police would be "on the case" of gang leaders on a daily basis, adding: "Knowing that the police are on your case can be very effective - daily visits and stop and search for example."


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