Yorkshire had the third greatest rise in firearms operations of any region in England and Wales, new figures have shown.
The majority of the increase was the result of a 42 per cent rise in West Yorkshire, where police chiefs say a continued focus on reducing gun crime is bringing significant results.
When we started our sustained effort four years ago, I would say we had a problem.Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom, West Yorkshire Police
As well as being the region’s biggest force, the area covers the metropolitan districts of Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees. They are home to some significant organised crime groups who use firearms as part of their criminal business.
The Office for National Statistics found there were 217 more firearms operations in West Yorkshire in the year to March 2016 compared to the previous 12 months, bringing the total to 736.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “There’s no doubt that a big component part of our firearms figures are due to us being very proactive. At any time we have between three and five active investigations into serious organised crime groups that are involved in drugs or firearms.”
He said the number of guns discharged during crimes had halved since 2012 and 558 arrests were made during 2015/16 as a result of firearms operations.
“When we started our sustained effort four years ago, I would say we had a problem. Now we’re on top of it,” he added.
The rise in West Yorkshire contributed to an 11 per cent increase in operations by Yorkshire’s four police forces in the year ending March 2016, compared to just 0.5 per cent nationally.
There were 1,698 operations in Yorkshire during which the issue of firearms were authorised, excluding deployments for routine patrols or armed escorts.
The South Yorkshire and Humberside forces recorded rises of just one per cent, while North Yorkshire fell 64 per cent to 158.