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Hull MP welcomes tougher action against gun criminals

Diana Johnson MP today welcomed a big increase in the sentences awarded by courts for possessing a firearm since changes introduced in the 2003 Criminal Justice Act.

The Hull North MP was responding to new Home Office figures showing that:

The proportion of convicted offenders getting immediate custody for carrying a gun has soared from 24 per cent to 63 per cent.
Average sentence lengths for gun possession are much longer - up 73 per cent from 27.3 months in 2003 to 47.3 months in 2005. The average sentence lengths for 18 to 20 year old offenders in particular have more than doubled from 18.6 months in 2003 to 45.5 months in 2005.
The number of offenders getting sentences of five years or over in 2005 for firearms possession was four times what it was in 2003 and sixteen times what it was under the Tories up to 1997.

Diana Johnson MP said: “We must never be complacent about the serious problem of gun crime. However, the tougher approach taken in Labour’s 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which was opposed by the Lib Dems and Tories, is putting more violent criminals behind bars for longer.

“Although I will always urge the police to make full use of the extra powers and resources that the Government has provided since 1997, I am keen to listen to views in Hull about what new measures Parliament may need to introduce to combat the scourge of violent crime.

“I certainly oppose the soft on crime Lib Dem policy of scrapping mandatory life sentences for serious offences and replacing all prison sentence of up to three months with ‘community sentences’.”

The Home Office figures were published on the day that the House of Commons was voting on the Serious Crime Bill, which provides new powers to combat serious crime, such as drug trafficking and people smuggling, more effectively.

Diana Johnson MP is currently spending 22 days over the next four months working with Humberside Police under the Police Service Parliamentary Scheme.