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Dangers of policing the streets...
 
As a police constable is shot dead in Shrewsbury, we ask if officers are facing increasing danger on the streets.

David Jones,  Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, with guns handed in during November's gun amnesty
These guns were recently taken off the streets of Manchester.

The officer was killed while attending a domestic incident in which a man was brandishing a firearm.

But the debate on whether more British police officers should carry guns remains as divided as ever after the Shrewsbury officer's death.

"In circumstances where all police officers were armed, it might not have saved his life anyway because there has to be a degree of preparation," said former Metropolitan Police firearms officer Roger Gray.

"The man inside the door has the advantage, and if he takes it then action beats reaction," he told BBC News 24.

"I don't think we desire to have a fully armed police force in this country - the resources required to do it are enormous. I don't think it's a practical position."

Research carried out by the Police Federation for England and Wales last year found 40,000 officers had been faced with a knife and 7,000 threatened with a gun during the past two years.

Paul Tonks, chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said that during his 28 years' service there had always been colleagues injured, but the job had become more dangerous recently.

He said: "The easiest way to show this is that now officers wear a stab and ballistic-proof vest and are issued with a CS incapacity spray.

"They are also issued with a baton which is far more effective than those issued 28 years ago."

But he added: "Firearms have been used against police, but it's still extremely unusual."

One of Pc Tonks' colleagues was shot and injured in Wolverhampton in November 2006. Two years ago another West Midlands officer, Detective Constable Michael Swindells, was stabbed to death.

'Worrying trend'

Pc Tonks' concerns over safety are echoed throughout the police service.

Crisis management expert Peter Power, a former Metropolitan police officer who specialises in shootings, agreed that it is "incredibly rare" for an officer to be shot.

"In other countries it is not quite so rare - we must never lose sight of that," he said.

However, Mr Power said it was a "myth" that gun ownership was more common than in the past.

Pc Norman Brennan
The increasing violence against police mirrors that faced by other people in society
Pc Norman Brennan
Protect the Protectors

He told BBC News: "There is a popular culture that somehow we are carrying more guns than ever before. I'm not sure.

"I think fear exceeds reality. I think we often get confused. I'm not sure whether there is such a proliferation of gun crime."

But not everyone agrees.

Pc Norman Brennan said violent crime had "shot through the roof" during his 27 years with the Metropolitan Police.

Pc Brennan, who founded the pressure group Protect the Protectors, said: "Britain is very violent and the increasing violence against police mirrors that faced by other people in society."

He said: "I have taken on people with knives at least three times and one time I got stabbed in the chest, which nearly cost my life. It had a devastating impact."

A still from Dixon of Dock Green
But were things really much safer in his day?

A survey by Jane's Police Review in March 2006 found 21,845 assaults on officers in 51 forces across the UK last year. Most forces showed year-on-year increases, but one in three forces recorded a fall.

Despite this apparent rise in danger, the number of police officers killed on duty as a result of criminal acts in Britain has not risen sharply.

Before the latest officer death, Police Memorial Trust figures showed 27 officers were killed in the 1970s, 42 in the 1980s, 21 in the 1990s and 15 since 2000.

Those figures did not include police officers killed in Northern Ireland.

The trust, which erects memorials to officers killed on duty, was set up by film producer Michael Winner, a vocal advocate of arming police officers, after the death of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher in 1984.



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Gun culture...
 

Two people have been jailed for life after planning a contract killing that ended with the target still alive but both the would-be assassins dead. The killing highlights the lure of Britain's gun culture.

Richard Austin (right) and his accomplice Carlton Alveranga
Richard Austin (right) and his accomplice Carlton Alveranga.

Every mother worries about their teenage sons, but when they grow up in Manchester's Moss Side district and associate with criminals the anxiety is on a different level.

So it was with Bridget Austin, who last saw her son Richard alive three days before he was shot dead as he attempted to carry out a gangland hit at a pub in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Austin, 19, and his accomplice Carlton Alveranga, 20, had burst into the Brass Handles pub in the Langworthy area of Salford on a Sunday lunchtime in March last year.  

Inside a crowd of people were watching a Manchester United match live on television.

Austin and Alveranga, who were both masked, approached a table at which their target, David Totton, was sitting.

Austin opened fire, but Alveranga's 9mm handgun jammed and the pair were disarmed by some of the pub's customers and shot with their own weapons.

The scene inside the Brass Handles
Dozens of people were in the pub at the time of the shooting.

The pair fled outside but collapsed on the grass, where they died of their wounds. Mr Totton, despite being shot in the face and chest, miraculously escaped serious injury.

Detectives investigating the events of 12 March 2006 discovered CCTV from inside the Brass Handles had disappeared.

The pub was later closed down on the orders of Greater Manchester Police.

Several people were later arrested and last month Ian McLeod, 42, and Constance Howarth, 28, were convicted by a jury at Preston Crown Court.

On Tuesday they were jailed for life. McLeod must serve a minimum of 21 years and Howarth a minimum of 20 years.

Sentencing them, Mr Justice Andrew Smith, said: "Two men died, they were not innocents, but they were young, their lives were not expendable.

Two men died, they were not innocents, but they were young, their lives were not expendable
Mr Justice Andrew Smith

 

"In view of the calculating nature of this offence I consider there is every danger you are incorrigibly involved in violent crime. You will always present a danger to the public."

A third man, Robert "Bobby" Spiers, wanted in connection with the conspiracy, is believed to have fled the country.

The trial heard a statement from Ms Austin in which she spoke of how she had feared her son was becoming embroiled in gangsterism and gun culture.

She said gangs were a way of life in Moss Side and she had "desperately" wanted her family to move away because she could see "how bad the area was".

Constance Howarth and Ian McLeod
Constance Howarth and Ian McLeod both had criminal connections.

The Austins moved to Wythenshawe, but her son continued to visit friends in Moss Side and his mother said: "I worried every time Richard would not come home as he would probably be in Moss Side. I had no idea who he was with."

The trial heard Austin and Alveranga were guided to their targets by Constance Howarth, who had a long track record of involvement in organised crime and is the cousin of Salford gang boss Paul Massey, who was jailed in 1999.

In 1998 Howarth was jailed for five years, along with notorious Glasgow criminal Paul Ferris, after being convicted of trafficking guns.

'Gunchester' reputation:

The scene of the shooting in Salford
Austin and Alveranga were found on the grass outside the pub.

McLeod was a senior member of Moss Side's Doddington gang and police said his conviction was "significant".

Detective Superintendent Andy Tattersall said: "McLeod is an influential character within the underworld of Manchester and Moss Side. He recruited those boys and planned an execution. It's because of him they died.

"He used his influence on others to do his dirty work. He is a very, very dangerous man."

The killings at the Brass Handles reinforce Greater Manchester's reputation for gun crime and gangsterism.

Young people need to realise that when they pick up a gun, ironically they increase their chances of being shot themselves
Greater Manchester Police.

Greater Manchester Police told the BBC News website it had launched an operation called Xcalibre, which "targeted known individuals who are at the root of this type of crime".

The spokesman said: "Since the launch of Xcalibre the number of firearms incidents in Greater Manchester has been decreasing year-on-year. April 2004 to March 2005 saw a 12% decrease in firearms discharges and a further 4% reduction during the same period in 2005/6."

He added: "We recognise that society is changing. At one time fists were used to settle disputes, today some people reach for a gun instead.

"Guns are items that for some peer groups, are seen to be a symbol of respect and kudos. Young people need to realise that when they pick up a gun, ironically they increase their chances of being shot themselves."


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Teenager blinded after shooting...
 
Scene of the shooting in Harold Road, Upton Park
The victim is critically ill in hospital.
A teenager who was hit in the face during a drive-by shooting in east London has lost his sight, police said.

Detectives said the 19-year-old man, who remains in a critical condition, was "an entirely innocent party".

He was with two other men when a red Vauxhall Vectra pulled up and one of the occupants opened fire in Harold Road, Plaistow, on 9 April.

Two youths, aged 17, from east London have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

They were bailed to return to an east London police station on 16 May pending further inquiries.

"The victim suffered horrific injuries and is now blind in both eyes," said Det Sgt Steve Desmond.

"He was an entirely innocent party, simply standing in the street when he was shot in the face."

A police spokesman said there may have been four males, all Asian, inside the car.

"It is not known whether the shot was fired from the front or the rear of the vehicle," the spokesman said.


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Man dies after shooting incident...
 
Shooting scene
The shooting took place outside a row of shops in Cardonald.
A man has been shot dead on a busy road in Glasgow, police said.

The attack, thought to have been a drive-by shooting, happened at about 1.20 PM in Corkerhill Road, Cardonald.

One shot was fired and as the man tried to flee he was shot in the head and abdomen. Strathclyde Police said the victim was believed to be in his 30s.

A police spokesman said inquiries were at an early stage and detectives were in the process of establishing the exact circumstances.

The shooting happened outside a row of shops close to Cardonald College.

Police at the scene
Police are continuing their investigation.

It is believed that the victim, who had been with his girlfriend, was first targeted near Corkerhill railway station.

Witnesses said that the man was able to run, but was fatally shot outside the shops.

A number of students were said to have witnessed the shooting and were being comforted by members of staff.

Corkerhill Road was blocked off with a police cordon as forensics officers began their investigation.

A member of staff at a nearby nursing home said she heard a total of four shots.


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11 May 2007
THIRD MAN IS KILLED IN BITTER FEUD...

A MAN was shot dead on a busy street yesterday as a bitter family feud claimed its third victim.

It's thought Jim McDonald, 35, was hit by at least three bullets.

He had only been out of prison for a few months after serving five years for a road rage attack.

He was killed in Corkerhill Road, Cardonald, near Glasgow, at about 1.20pm.

Rajindar Singh, who runs Corkerhill General Store, said: "I heard three bangs then eight or nine students from Cardonald College burst into the shop and told me to call an ambulance.

"I looked out to see a man lying in the street. It looked as though he'd been shot in the head."

Sources said McDonald, from Glasgow's Pollok, was targeted after Kevin McCluskey, 39, was murdered in February 2005.

He was blamed for stabbing McDonald's brother Derek, 42, to death in Pollok in April 2002 but never stood trial.

Derek McDonald's son, John, 22, was jailed for life in 2005 for shooting and killing McCluskey.


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Gang members get life for murder...
 
Mahir Osman
Mr Osman suffered three fatal stab wounds during the attack...
Three gang members have been jailed for life for the murder of a teenager which was captured on CCTV.

The images of Mahir Osman, 18, being attacked by at least 30 people in Camden, north London in January 2006 were shown to the Old Bailey jury.

The CCTV images showed Mr Osman, from Hampstead, north London, being punched, stamped on and stabbed 20 times.

Five other defendants also received jail terms. None of the eight can be named for legal reasons.

Two of the killers, both aged 20, were sentenced to life in prison with minimum terms of 15 and 14 years.

Gang culture:

Another, aged 17, was sentenced to life with a 10-year minimum term.

Judge Stephen Kramer said the attack was an example of a gang culture "all too prevalent" on the streets of London.

A 25-year-old man was jailed for five years for conspiracy to wound with intent and violent disorder.

An 18-year-old man received four years detention for conspiracy to possess offensive weapons and violent disorder.

There are no words that can describe the hurt and heartache that we are feeling now and will do forever for the future
Abdi Rahman, Mahir Osman's father

Three other people, aged 16, 17, and 18, were handed five years detention for conspiracy to wound with intent, conspiracy to possess offensive weapons and violent disorder.

The court had heard how the attack had been the culmination of escalating violence involving two Somali gangs from Camden and the Tottenham-Edmonton area.

The jury had watched in silence as youths carrying wooden bats, bottles, hammers and knives assaulted Mr Osman near Camden Tube station.  

He was left rolling about in the road as his attackers ran off and tried to get away on a number 253 bus before it was stopped by police, said Brian Finucane QC for the prosecution.

Judge Kramer added that gang culture created senseless violence which members of the public were forced to endure "simply because they are innocently and lawfully out and about".

Mr Osman's father Abdi Rahman said his son came from a "religious, loving and caring" family.

In a statement he said: "There are no words that can describe the hurt and heartache that we are feeling now and will do forever for the future."


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Training Day: Swoop on city's most wanted...
 
Cell door
The city's 22 police cells were filled during the day-long operation.
Police in York have arrested 23 of the city's most wanted criminals in a day-long series of raids.

Dubbed Operation Zero, Friday's crackdown netted people wanted for a range of crimes, including drugs offences, theft and assault.

At one stage all 22 cells at the city's Fulford Road police station were full.

Insp Mark Iveson said the operation had been "very successful" and warned other suspects who were wanted by police that it would not be a one-off.

"In the light of that success we do plan to run quite a few operations of this nature over the next few weeks," he said.

"I would urge anybody who believes they may be wanted by police to contact us at the earliest opportunity.

"They may well find us knocking at the door over the next few weeks."

As well as the arrests, police also seized stolen goods during Friday's operation, which centred on the Fulford and Copmanthorpe areas.

North Yorkshire Police said additional resources, including 26 extra officers, were available because Friday had been allocated as a training day.

Instead of training, the officers were switched to active duty.


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Drive-by shooting vehicle found...
 
Land Rover
The getaway vehicle had been set on fire.
The stolen vehicle that was used in a drive-by shooting in Glasgow last week has been traced by police.

Father-of-two James McDonald, 36, was killed in broad daylight in Corkerhill Road on Thursday.

Police hunting his killer found the silver Land Rover Freelander used in the murder in the Seedhill area of Paisley on Saturday night.

The car, which had been set on fire, was reported stolen from outside a house in Blackwood, South Lanarkshire.

It is believed two men were in the 4x4 before one got out and shot Mr McDonald in the head and body.

Det Supt Alan Buchanan, the officer in charge of Strathclyde Police's murder investigation, said the Land Rover had been found by officers called to a report of a vehicle on fire in McKerrell Street, Paisley.

He said: "This car was stolen from outside a house in Curtis Avenue, Blackwood in the early hours of Sunday, 6 May, 2007.

"We are still keen to find out where the vehicle has been kept since that date and if anyone has seen the vehicle until it was recovered last night in Paisley.

"The vehicle has now been removed and detailed forensic examinations are being carried out both on the vehicle and where it was traced."

We are still keen to find out where the vehicle has been kept since that date, and if anyone has seen the vehicle until it was recovered last night in Paisley
Det Sgt Alan Buchanan
Strathclyde Police.

At the time, police described the murder of Mr McDonald as an "outrage". They were investigating whether the shooting had been a gangland revenge killing.

Mr McDonald was first shot at close to his home. He attempted to flee but was chased by his two attackers in the Land Rover.

The car continued to pursue him along Corkerhill Road, where a gunman jumped out and shot Mr McDonald in the head and abdomen, killing him. The vehicle then drove off towards Paisley Road West.


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The partner of a man on remand for allegedly stealing jewellery worth almost £250,000, has been injured in a shooting at her Belfast home.

Martine Benson, 32, suffered facial cuts after a shotgun blast was fired through a window of her Poleglass home.

Three other women were not hurt. A letter containing a threat was put through the letterbox.

Martine and her sister Seaneen's partners are on remand awaiting trial for kidnap and possession of a gun.

The charges against Martine's partner follow a failed robbery in Belfast last December when some £230,000 worth of jewellery was allegedly taken from a firm on the Boucher Road, before police swooped.

Ms Benson had gone to switch off a light when a single shot shattered the property on Good Shepherd Court.

"It blew my living room to pieces," she said.

"I've got cuts and bruises all over my body, and the smoke was everywhere.

Martine Benson sustained facial cuts from showering glass
Martine Benson sustained facial cuts from showering glass.

"It was aimed at myself; I'm lucky I'm not dead.

"This is affecting my life, and my nerves."

Ms Benson said the letter contained a threat urging both her and her sister's partners to withdraw statements.

She spoke to her partner in jail on Tuesday, hours after the attack.

She said he was adamant that he had not made any statements.

Ms Benson's four children are understood to have been staying with relatives when the shooting happened.

Detectives are seeking a motive for the attack but are not treating it as sectarian or paramilitary.


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'Yardie armourer' is shot dead in raid on gun factory.

Scotland Yard said the man died in an 'intelligence led' operation.

A man believed to be a Yardie armourer has been shot dead by police marksmen in a raid on an alleged gun factory.

The man, who is thought to be 53, was shot by firearms officers after being challenged several times during the planned raid in Ealing last night. Paramedics and the London air ambulance were called to Hanger Green and gave the man emergency treatment but he died at the scene.

Scotland Yard would not say this morning if the man had been armed and had fired at police.

Witnesses said at least three shots had been fired in the incident at 10.25pm yesterday.

Scotland Yard said the man, who has not been named, died in an "intelligence led" operation conducted by officers from Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime among black communities, supported by specialist firearms officers.

The raid's target was believed to be a man who was involved in trafficking firearms. He is thought to have been about to take delivery of a handgun when the raid took place. The incident happened behind a parade of shops on Hanger Green. Forensic science officers this morning erected a large tent at the back of Paolo's Italian restaurant.

Andrew Wood, 46, who lives above the shops, said: "It was around 10.30 last night when I thought I heard what I thought were fireworks. I looked out of my flat and realised it must have been a shoot-out as there were police all over the place.

"I then saw a naked man on the floor with paramedics trying to revive him. He looked middle-aged and overweight.

"I can't say I was that shocked, I live right next to a night bus stop and busy Tube station. I've seen a lot of stuff going on around here." Another resident, Paula Rabich, 60, said: "I saw police everywhere, there must have been at least 30 officers.

"I then saw a police officer with a machinegun firing at someone and shouting. I couldn't see who they were shooting at because it was dark, then a police officer turned a light on my face and shouted something at me so I ducked down behind the balcony wall and I heard more shooting. Afterwards I saw the man lying down and medics trying to resuscitate him."

Another resident said the area had become a no-go zone. Kai Jones, a 22-year-old legal clerk, said: "The car park and garages is not somewhere where you go at night. It was safe to play there when I was young but now it's not safe at all."

No police officers were injured in the incident and no other arrests were made. Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Directorate of Professional Standards are investigating.

A spokesman said the force took the routine measure of referring the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which sent investigators to the scene.

There is still controversy over the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in 2005.

Mr de Menezes, 27, an electrician was mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot at point-blank range by two officers the day after the 21 July attempted bombings.

Last year one of the police marksmen involved in the shooting shot dead a suspected armed robber, who was allegedly taking part in a robbery on a building society in Kent.

There have been a series of other controversial police shootings in recent years.

In July 2001, father-of-four Derek Bennett, 29, was shot six times by officers in Brixton. They thought his cigarette lighter was a weapon.

In September 1999, two officers shot dead a man they thought was carrying a sawn-off shotgun - it was actually a table leg. Painter and decorator Harry Stanley, 46, was gunned down in the street in Hackney, after police said he ignored a warning and raised the bag he was holding. A 999 call had suggested he was an Irish terrorist with a sawn-off shotgun.


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Two charged with boy's gun death...
 
Michael Dosunmu
Detectives say Michael was shot with a machine gun...
Two men have been charged with the murder of schoolboy Michael Dosunmu who was shot dead in his bedroom.

Michael, 15, was fatally injured in his home in Peckham, south-east London, on 6 February.

Mohammed Sannoh, 18, and Abdi Omar Noor, 21, both of no fixed address, will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday.

Four other males, aged between 16 and 23, are currently on police bail pending further inquiries.

Michael's older sister Shakira was also at home when he was shot.

She gave her brother first aid and he was able to say a few words to her, but died in hospital less than an hour later.

Michael was a regular at the Celestial Church of Christ, in nearby Bird In Bush Road, and attended Archbishop Michael Ramsey Technology College in Camberwell.


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Gang member starts life sentence.
 
Aaron Gordon (left), Lamont Emesibe (centre) and Alex Augustine
The judge described the killing as "particularly brutal".
 

A gang member has been jailed for life for the murder of a man who was working to turn young people away from crime.

Colin Brown, 38, was shot and stabbed as he intervened in a dispute on the Grange Estate, in East Finchley, north London, in April 2006.

Aaron Gordon, 20, was handed a minimum term of 30 years in jail for the murder at the Old Bailey.

Co-accused Lamont Emesibe, 20, was given 12 years' detention after he was found guilty of manslaughter.

The pair, who were convicted earlier this year, were members of the so-called K9 gang who attacked Mr Brown, the court heard.

At the time of his death, Mr Brown, a reformed bank robber, was working on a film to help turn children away from violence and drugs.

Judge Giles Forrester described it as a "particularly brutal killing".

Alex Augustine, 19, from Barnet, was given five years' detention after pleading guilty to assault on another man.

It was this assault which prompted Mr Brown to go to the estate in search of his attackers.

He was killed during a confrontation with four men, including Gordon and Emesibe, police said in a statement.

Offciers are still looking for two suspects, Piers Guthrie, 20, and Jean-Paul Oboh, 21, in connection with the killing.


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Man is stabbed to death near home.

Police are investigating the death of a man who suffered a fatal stab wound in a confrontation with three youths.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was injured outside his home in Partick Road, Sunderland, and later died in hospital.

His death is being treated as murder, and police believe it may be linked to a further stabbing just minutes later.

It happened in nearby Galway Square, when a man was approached by three youths and stabbed in the chest.

He is being treated in hospital but his injury is not life-threatening.

There were also reports of youths causing a disturbance in the area between the two incidents, early on Saturday morning.

Police are speaking to witnesses and establishing descriptions of those involved.


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Man charged over fatal shooting...
 
Warren Gray
Mr Gray was shot in the chest...
A 24-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a man who died in a shooting at a block of flats in south-east London.

Warren Gray, 24, of Catford, was shot in the chest at Milford Towers in Rushey Green, Lewisham, on 3 May.

Marvin Hussein, of Stanstead Road, Catford, is due to appear at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on Monday accused of killing Mr Gray.

Another man, aged 42, has been arrested and bailed until 5 June.


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