Statistics on the number of police recorded firearm offences are published by the ONS in the Crime in England & Wales bulletin. Gun related crime statistics are published by the ONS in the Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables.

Recorded firearm offences

Non-air firearms accounted for 70% of all firearm offences (air and non-air) recorded during the year ending 31 March 2020. There there were a total of 6,622 non-air firearm offences recorded by police in England & Wales in 2019/20. This was a decrease of 3.8% compared with 6,884 offences recorded in 2018/19.

Types of firearm offences 

In the year ending 31 March 2020, Criminal damage and Violence Against Person (VATP) offence categories respectively accounted for 30% and 24% of air and non-air firearms offences combined. Robbery and Possession of Weapons offences each represented 15%.

Type of firearms used

Since 2010/11, handguns have remained the most commonly used non-air firearm, with such offences accounting for 40% of non-air firearm offences in 2019/20. This was a 4 percentage point decrease from 44% in 2010/11. The use of imitation firearms increased the most from of all non-firearm offences from 23% in 2010/11 to 28% in 2015/16, before falling back to 23% in 2019/20. Rifles have remained the least common non-air firearms type, accounting for around 1% of all offences over the period.

Firearm offences by Police Force Area*

In 2019/20, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recorded the largest number of non-air firearm offences – accounting for 26.7% of all non-air firearm offences in England & Wales. Compared to 2018/19, the number of non-air weapon offences recorded by the MPS decreased by almost 14%, from 2,046 to 1,765. In the year ending 31 March 2020, West Midlands Police had the highest rate of non-air firearm offences at 23.8 per 100,000 population, followed by MPS at 19.7.

Data and reporting practices

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’.

It is worth noting that the ONS suggest that some of the recent increases in recorded crime are due to “improved crime recording practices and processes leading to a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded” [1]

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[1]     ONS, Crime in England and Wales: year ending Mar 2016, 21 July 2016

* Excluding City of London police

 


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