London

Armed police to patrol six London boroughs after rise in gun crime

Guns
Image caption Operation Viper, with 50 officers, includes marksmen accompanying officers

Armed police patrols will target London's gun crime hotspots such as Hackney, Lambeth and Southwark after a rise in the number of shootings.

Met Police chiefs say there are more guns on the streets which have fuelled a "significant" rise in the number of shootings in the past three months.

There were 226 shootings in 2015. So far this year there have been 122, with a particular rise since March.

Newham, Haringey and Brent were also highlighted as shooting hotspots.

Operation Viper, with 50 officers, will aim to crack down on gun crime in the six areas, with marksmen accompanying officers on traffic stops.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the difference between life and death can be "an inch, or alternatively a good surgeon"

The Viper squads will also carry out weapons sweeps and targeted raids.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the difference between life and death can be "an inch, or alternatively a good surgeon".

Rewards of £2,000 are being offered for information that leads to the seizure of guns and the prosecution of criminals linked to them.

Scotland Yard said the majority of shootings last year involved handguns. In 2015, 56% were handguns, 27% shotguns, 2% automatic weapons and 15% unknown or converted imitations.

Among the victims, 42% had links to gangs and half of victims had links to drug dealing.

Sir Bernard said a rise in shootings nationally suggests more weapons are getting on to the streets.

He said it was possible more guns than police knew about had "got through" and had landed in the hands of criminals.

"Clearly in some areas there is a gang element to it but that doesn't account for all of it," the Met boss added.

"The fact that we're seeing it across the country in the big cities probably indicates that we're talking about more supply."

More on this story