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Getting a gun is just too easy’

PUBLISHED: 15:58 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:41 23 August 2010

KB4298	15-02-07	Gravesend	Bobbie Cummines

KB4298 15-02-07 Gravesend Bobbie Cummines

A REFORMED armed robber who helps rehabilitate offenders claims gun crime is soaring because weapons are easier to buy on the streets.

A REFORMED armed robber who helps rehabilitate offenders claims gun crime is soaring because weapons are easier to buy on the streets.

Bobby Cummines, (pictured) who served 13 years in prison, is chief executive of Unlock, a charity that helps ex-offenders in north Kent and south-east London.

He says that gun crime is a problem that is rising across the country, including picturesque Kent, and is no longer associated with ghetto areas.

Mr Cummines said: "Guns are more accessible, and they are getting into the hands of younger and younger people.

"It is a problem that is increasing. Before, young people who were dealing in a bit of puff might carry a blade or a stick, but now it is all too easy for them to get their hands on a gun.

"You can get a replica gun and convert it for £38 into a dangerous weapon, you don't have to be a gun smith to do it.

"There are firms who operate out of warehouses manufacturing them. There are guns coming from Northern Ireland as they are disarming, and they are finding their way onto the streets.

"You can pick one up in any major city within 48 hours. If you want to get hold of one, you can get hold of one. I am not just talking about revolvers, you can buy semi automatics and fully automatic machine guns, a bit more expensive, but you can still get them."

Figures released by the Home Office in January show there were 59 firearms related murders between 2006 and 2007, compared with 49 in the previous year.

There were more than 507 serious injuries from firearms, more than one a day.

The Metropolitan Police's Trident, set up to tackle black on black gun violence in the capital, recorded an 8.8 per cent rise in incidents between April 2007 and March 2008. In Bromley there were 79 incidents of gun crime in the same period, seven more than the year before. Bexley recorded 51 incidents recorded, a rise of four from the year before.

Mr Cummines added: "What we have to realise now is Kent is not that rural beautiful place, that garden of England. It is becoming more and more like an extension of London.

He added: "We need to get guns off the streets. Weapons surrenders get people handing in guns, but only people who are not a threat to society.

"When I talk to young people who have been involved in gun crime, they say the reason they carry a gun is to get respect, and if they haven't got a gun, then they don't have respect.

"Every little drug dealer, who before where having fisticuffs, is now carrying shooters.

"We need to educate young people that it is not the way forward and stop this problem getting any worse."

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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