Gun crime

Gun crime in London

Date published: 
23 January 2018

The term ‘gun crime’ covers both lethal weapons, such as shotguns and handguns, and non-lethal weapons, such as air weapons and stun guns.

Over the last few years, gun crime has been on the rise in London.

The number of offences is small compared with other types of crime, but nonetheless it is a crime with devastating consequences for victims, families and communities.

‘Gun Crime in London’

Key facts

  • In the last three years, the number of offences has risen. In the 12 months to October 2017, there were 2,500 offences involving guns: a 16 per cent increase on the previous year and a 44 per cent increase on 2014.
  • In the year to October 2017, out of 2,542 gun crimes, 770 guns were fired, of which 318 were classed as lethal weapons.
  • The number of lethal guns fired has increased by around 20 per cent since 2012.
  • In the year to October 2017, gangs accounted for 10 per cent of all gun crime offences, 18 per cent of the offences where a gun was fired and 41 per cent of the offences where a lethal gun was fired.
  • In the year to October 2017, 59 per cent of gun crime offenders were aged 25 or younger.


The Committee gathered evidence from the Met Police, the National Crime Agency, a trauma surgeon and a representative of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation on the issue of gun crime in London. The investigation found that:

  • The supply of guns into the UK from abroad is a growing concern, with a small but increasing number of weapons originating from Eastern Europe, particularly de-commissioned guns, which are easily converted.
  • The use of technology is changing the way people access guns, in particular with the use of the ‘dark web’.
  • Gangs account for nearly half of all offences where a lethal gun is fired. Gun use, however, appears to be spreading outside of gang disputes.
  • The Mayor of London needs to ensure that he is focused on stopping guns from entering the capital, and making sure young people are aware of the consequences of carrying a gun.


In January 2018, the Committee published its short findings report on gun crime in London. Alongside the findings report, the Committee wrote to the Mayor, recommending that he:

  • undertake a piece of research with bodies such as the National Crime Agency, National Ballistics Intelligence Service and Border Force to build a clearer picture of how guns enter London from abroad
  • examine what more can be done to fully understand theft of legal guns and its impact on the capital and either introduce or lobby for any changes to intelligence gathering 
  • work with offenders and victims of gun crime, including those services that support them, to build up a clearer picture of the drivers of gun use and how their use can be reduced 
  • publish, through MOPAC, more detail on the levels of gun crime in London, including the number of offences; where a gun is fired; where a lethal gun is fired; and how many offences are gang related, to improve the level of information provided to the public

Next steps

A letter with recommendations was sent to the Mayor, for response by 2 March 2018. The response was received on 18 April 2018.


The committee recommended that the Mayor carry out further work to fully understand how guns get onto London’s streets and what can be done to fully understand theft of legal guns and its impact on the capital. The Mayor in his response has said that “there are already sufficient structures in place to help us understand this element of the issue” and that the Met works with the firearms community to ensure compliance with licences.


Members also asked the Mayor to work with victims and offenders to better understand drivers for gun crime and publish more detail on levels of gun crime in London. In his response the Mayor said that MOPAC will “continue to consult with young victims of gun crime and knife crime”; and agreed to publish more information on gun crime through MOPAC. MOPAC subsequently published a ‘weapon enabled crime’ dashboard in Spring 2018. While it does not provide detail on all of the elements made in the recommendation, it does provide detail on gun offences by borough, the number of lethal guns fired, and the number of gun offences involving robbery.


The committee will continue, in the short term, to monitor gun crime as part of its investigation into tackling violence in London.   


See letters below.                                                                                                                                                                       


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