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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. Gun related crime statistics are published by the ONS in the Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables.

Recorded firearm offences

In the year ending 31 March 2019, there were a total of 6,759 firearm offences recorded in the England & Wales. This was an increase of 4% compared with 6,534 offences recorded during the year ending 31 March 2018, and the highest recorded number since 7,040 in 2010/11.

Types of firearm offences by firearm type

In the year ending 31 March 2019, Criminal damage and Violence Against Person (VATP) offence categories respectively accounted for 24.9% and 28.5% of air and non-air firearms offences. Robbery and Possession of Weapons offences represented 18.3% and 14.0% respectively.

Type of firearms used

Since 2008/09, handguns have remained the most commonly used non-air firearm type, accounting for 40% of non-air firearm offences in 2018/19. 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 further to 21% in 2018/19. 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 2018/19, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recorded the largest number of non-air firearm offences – accounting for just over 30% of all non-air firearm offences in England & Wales. The MPS also had the highest rate of non-air firearm offences per 100,000 population, at 23.0, followed by the West Yorkshire (20.7).

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 It has been suggested 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]


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

* Excluding City of London police


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