Updated: Saturday, 20th September 2014 @ 4:40pm

Comment: Let's keep things in perspective... gun crime has fallen across Greater Manchester since 2007

Comment: Let's keep things in perspective... gun crime has fallen across Greater Manchester since 2007

By Phil Jones

The tragic deaths of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone shook the country last week.

However, we shouldn’t let one or two horrific incidents like this, and the cold-blooded shooting of Anuj Bidve in December, distort our judgement and make reckless decisions about the way we police in this country - or about the hard work that has already been done to reduce gun crime.

We must keep things in perspective: gun crime in Greater Manchester has fallen every year since at least 2007.

Figures from the House of Commons show that Manchester is well on its way to shedding its ‘Gunchester’ tag, with incidents involving firearms down 29% in 2010-2011.

It isn’t just an isolated dip either with the numbers showing a continual decline, falling every year from 1160 incidents in 2007/08, to just 504 in 2010/11.

The latest figures work out at 19.2 firearm crimes per 100,000 population in Greater Manchester, compared to 35.1 in the Metropolitan Police area and City of London, and 34.3 in the West Midlands.

Despite the evidence displaying a drop in gun crime, Paul Beshenivsky, the widower of murdered PC Sharon Beshenivsky, has this week called for all police officers to be armed.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg rejected these calls when asked by reporters in Central London last week.

He said: "We have a long tradition in this country, which is a great tradition, of policing in the community, of the police being part of the public and the public supporting and giving their consent to the police.

“I think if we were, in an instant, to, in a sense, arm our police to the teeth so they become separate from the public, that would be quite a big change which would have considerable risks attached to it.”

And the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, agreed with Mr Clegg, citing the effect of arming officers in America as evidence to the contrary.

“Guns don't necessarily solve the problem,” he said. “You only have to look at the American experience.

"Many colleagues in America are lost without even drawing their gun at close ranges.”

Despite the high numbers of incidents per capita seen in specific locations around the country, the general decline in Manchester’s gun crime is reflected nationwide as well.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show 5911 incidents were recorded in England and Wales, in the year to March 2012.

That figure is down by 1112 from the previous year, and by a startling 4337 in total over the last nine years.

The incidents of last week truly did ‘cast a long, dark shadow across Manchester’, but we shouldn’t let that shadow obscure the work that our police have done day after day to reduce gun crime.

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