UK government targets gun crime with new databases

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UK government targets gun crime with new databases

Experts warn that database details must be closely guarded.

Following the spate of high profile shootings in south London, the UK Home Office is planning to introduce two new databases designed to help officials link weapons with shootings.

The first of these, currently being rolled out across England and Wales, is the National Firearms Licence Management System, a central national register of all persons who have applied for, or have been granted, a certificate for a firearm.

The second is the National Ballistics Intelligence Database, which should be up and running by April next year. It will be used to record details of all weapons and ammunition recovered from crime scenes.

This new £4m database will replace the existing Forensic Science Service's National Firearms Forensics Intelligence Database which has been collecting this information since 2002.

Data security experts have welcomed the new systems, but warned that suitable security measures must be put in place.

Andrew Pearson, executive vice president at Workshare, said: "While these steps should be applauded, it should not overshadow the need to ensure that the information within these new sources is absolutely secure and accessible only to a selected few.

"If any information regarding weapons and their whereabouts in the country was inadvertently let out into the public domain, the government could face drastic consequences."

Police in Boston found that being able to trace where a weapon had come from helped them to reduce gun homicides from 152 to 32 in 10 years.

Although gun crime is far lower in the UK, the government is hoping that these new systems will have a similar impact.
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