House of Commons Library

Firearm Crime Statistics: England & Wales

Published Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Statistics on the number of police recorded firearm offences are published by the ONS in the Crime in England & Wales bulletin. Additional statistics are published by the ONS in the Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences compendium.

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Statistics on the number of police recorded firearm offences are published by the ONS in the Crime in England & Wales bulletin. Additional statistics are published by the ONS in the Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences compendium.

Recorded firearm offences

In the twelve months ending 31 March 2017 there were a total of 6,375 non-air firearm offences recorded in England & Wales. This was an increase of 23% on the 5,182 offences recorded during the year ending 31 March 2016.

Recorded offences

Firearm offences by Police Force Area*

The latest available data by police force area is for 2015/16 and shows that Metropolitan Police Service recorded the largest number of non-air firearm offences accounting for just over 30% of all non-air firearm offences in England & Wales. The West Midlands police had the highest rate (19) per 100,000 of non-air firearm offences.

Offences by Police Force Area

Types of firearm offences by firearm type

In the year ending 31 March 2016 Criminal Damage offences accounted for the largest share of firearm offences - just over 29% (including air and non-air firearms).Violence Against the Person (VATP) and Robbery offences accounted for 27% and 18% respectively.

Type of firearms used

Since 2008/09, handguns have remained the most commonly used non-air firearm type, accounting for 42% of non-air firearm offences in 2016/17. The use of Imitation firearms has increased the most among non-air firearm offences, from 18% of all non-air firearm offences in 2008/09 to 28% in 2015/16, before falling to 26% in 2016/17. Rifles have remained the least common non-air firearms type accounting for around 1% of all offences over the period.

Data and reporting practices

This note does not provide details on firearm possession offences where the weapon was not used. The statistical publications on firearm crime concentrate on those offences where a firearm was used in the execution of another offence.

In reporting the number of firearm offences, it is not always possible to ascertain whether a real firearm was actually used. Unless a weapon is fired or recovered by the police following a criminal offence, in many cases there is no way of knowing conclusively whether the firearm was real or an imitation, or whether it was loaded or unloaded at the time of the offence. Moreover, the categorisation of firearms will sometimes be strongly reliant on the description given to the police by victims or witnesses, or upon other evidence. Some offences also involve the use of imitation weapons, while others involve the use of a ‘supposed firearm’.

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* Excluding City of London police

 

 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7654

Authors: Grahame Allen; Lukas Audickas; Aleksandra Gorb

Topics: Crime, Crimes of violence, Offensive weapons

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