PETER SQUIRES: My name is Peter Squires.I'm a Professor of Criminology and Public Policyat the University of Brighton.I've worked here quite some time.Been a professor for the last 10 years.And a few years ago, I took part in a projectlooking at gangs and guns.How gang members acquired firearms,what they did with them, how they circulated them.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And we were funded to look at the,if you like, the supply and demand of guns, and for guns,in gang involve communities.The context for this was that after the Dunblane Massacre
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: in 1996, all handguns in Britain,that's sort of pistols and revolvers,were effectively banned.The shooting at Dunblane School and in March in 1996-- We'recoming up to the 20th anniversary of it.Was a situation where a lonely and angry man
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: with four handguns went into a school in Scotland, and startedshooting up a classroom of five and six-year-old children.He killed 16 children and two teachers,and then shot himself.There have been lots of school shooting in the USA,but this was the first significant school
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: shooting in Britain.Fortunately, the only one.But it was a real game changer in British attitudesto firearms.It led to some fairly rapid legislationthat banned all handguns.That was there was a national campaign, and both
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: the outgoing conservative government,and the incoming Blair-Labour governmentcontrived to battle all handguns.And the strange result following that is in the four yearsafter 1998 and a gun ban, actually handgun involved crimemore than doubled.Now that's quite bazaar, that the guns had been banned,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: but the problem doubled.It led to a degree of perplexity.It led to the American critics of gun controlto say gun control will never work.The Brits have got it wrong.But what was happening in Britainwas it was a combination of a number of things.One was a substantial transformation of gun supply,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: and a change in the nature of the gun market, if you like.And a change in the way in which gangswere acquiring them, and generating a demand for them.What was causing the rapid increase in gun crime
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: was an influx into the supply side of a whole lot of replicaguns, a whole load of what have become known as converted guns,whereas guns are bought that a alarm guns,or athletic starting pistols.And then they're re-engineered to fire bullets.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And finally, reactivated guns.This is, taking guns that have been deactivated,sold as souvenirs, and then peopleare buying them in crate loads, and reactivating themand selling them on to gangs.So these three problems, really theyamounted to the creation of what are called a junk gunmarket in Britain.Real guns were getting hard to come by,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: so these junk guns were flowing in.There were loopholes in the law.And gangsters we're acquiring these gunsand using them to commit armed robberies,and threaten on another.The argument if you were desperate for money,for your next drug fix, it didn'tmatter whether the gun was real or not.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: You stuck it in the face of the guy at the off license.He didn't want to know whether the gun was really at all.And the police advice was to give him the money,be on the safe side.And of course, that was responsible for a big chunkin the rise in gun crime.Research has guessed that something like 50% to 60%
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: of the increase in gun crime cameabout as a result of replica conversion gun misuse.Air weapon misuse.So it was that it was a false increase.And what we were looking at in Manchesterwas how do gang members get hold of these guns,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: and what do they do with them?How do they share them around?We found evidence of gang members accessing weaponsfrom what were called criminal armourers, guyswho supply guns.Sometimes these guys had connectionsthat were converting them, re-activating them.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And sometimes it would be renting them out.A gun rented out to gang members.If the gun was fired, then often theydidn't want it back, because thatwould mean that the gun had then got a criminal record attachedto it.But if you rented the gun, you didn't shoot it,and killed nobody with it, you could get it back,and all you paid was the rental price.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: So there were a whole new way, a whole new rangeof ways in which guns were being acquiredby gang involved young people.Not always young people.Gang involved people.And recycled, shared around, sawed offshotguns, guns stolen from farms.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: We came up with a picture of this whole new hitherto unknownworld of junk guns that were fueling the problem.And we were able to access greater Manchester Police'sintelligence database to look at how these gangs worked
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: and operated to share guns around within their gangs.And surprisingly, sometimes across gangs.Well the research we undertook in Manchester, followingthe acceptance of the bid, it had Manchester Police
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: as collaborators in the project, and theyagreed to share their anonymized intelligence database.So we got the database once the names was stripped out of it.And we were able to interrogate that databaseto produce a picture gangs networks in Manchester.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And this is a really sophisticated pieceof network analysis.And I think it's a major contributionto this, and to other projects.What it really showed is that the more the police lookedat these networks of people, the morethat they focused upon them, the more data they
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: collected about them, the more observationsof meetings in pubs, or phone intercepts,or officers noticing some people sitting togetherin a car in the street.The more they were able to constructa picture of gang networks, and the more obvious
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: these clusters of networks appeared to be.The more they look, the more they find.So in a sense, the more they lookat what they think is the gang problem,the more they see of it.So we with greater Manchester Policeas our collaborators, partners in the research,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: we were able to use their intelligence database in orderto construct these networks.Bear in mind that an intelligent databases is not evidence.It is merely a set of observations emergingfrom policing practice.And that could be covert observations,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: surveillance observations.You know, guys sitting long hours in a van.It could be just casual observations.Police officers see two known gang members talking togetheroutside a pub.It could be whether arrested together,or it could be phone taps.So it could be a whole set of things.But it was information the police had recorded
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: on a number of their so-called priority nominals, key gangmembers.So we have that.And we also did a survey of police officers involvedin gang policing.We distributed a sort of survey questionnaire documentto something like 100 offices working in the gang policing.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And asked them about their perceptions of the sizeand scale of the problem, the access of gang members to guns,and policing initiatives and that have beensuccessful, and not successful.And finally we had access to other kind of professionals,the youth service.People working for social serviceswho touched the gang communities in other ways,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: in perhaps more peripheral ways.And were able to gain a kind of contactwith the affected community in those ways.The one thing we didn't have, and it's always the problemwith these sorts of studies.Not only does it raise ethical issues.We didn't have direct contact with peopledescribed as gang members.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: I mean, there are obvious benefits to doing that.There are obvious benefits to interviewing people in prison.But there are obvious risks, as well,to being involved in a project that had up workingso closely with the police.And that was also perhaps workingwith the policed community.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: So that was something we couldn't do.There was neither the time, nor the resources.Not at that point did we have the skills,and the personnel to do that part of the job.But we were able to look at, above all,
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: the policing of the gang gun problem.And the network analysis, and the picturewe got from there the police officers,and the intelligence analysts toldis a lot about the recycling of guns in the gang community.The recycling of these sorts of things.Often not real guns, but sometimes real guns.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: Sometimes shotguns.Sometimes converted guns that were part of the much messierpicture.What we worked out is that because real guns were beingharder to access, because there were seemingly less of them,that they had been intercepted by the police, confiscated
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: by the place, raids had picked some up out of gang houses.There was this real junk network of guns thatwere available to gangsters.A lot of the time there were ball bearing firing.There were not often always lethal guns.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: A big operation that Manchester Police and West MidlandsPolice did together was we came up with 1,000 guns.They said they confiscated 1,000 gunsin a whole series of dawn raids in the West Midlands,and in Manchester, Merseyside.That sounds brilliant.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: I 1,000 guns off the street.Only 10 of them were real guns.So it showed that because real guns were hard to get,there'd been a kind of displacementinto all sorts of other things that looked like guns, that youcould threaten somebody with, that youcould threaten businesspeople with in order
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: to commit robberies.But they wouldn't kill anybody.Now that's not to say they were all like that.There was certainly shootings.Manchester had serious shootings.Liverpool had serious shootings.But a lot of the kind of picture around some of those real guns
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: was just noise, and nonsense and junk.And what we also found, and it's oftenreferred to in studies of gang related communities,and often heavily policed communities, a real lackof cooperation with the police.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: Part of what I had in my access to the gang databasewas a whole load of intelligence reports from the police gangcrime command that showed how reluctant offenders wereto cooperate with the police, even when they'd been shot.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: There were individuals who'd been shot at.Some who'd been actually shot, and were interviewed in A&E,and they didn't want to know.The most bizarre story of all involved two young menwho turned up A&E with what looked like gunshots injuries
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: in their legs.But they denied vehemently that they'd beenshot until they were x-ray-ed.And they'd both still got bullets in them.So that is the level at which the antipathy to the policewould go.As soon as they were our of x-ray,one of the young men absconded from the hospital with all
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: his notes because A&E departments are requiredto notify the police when anyone comes inwith what looks like a gunshot wound, or a knife wound.And of course, if you're the kind of personwho's going to get shot-- one of the lessons from the researchwas that the kinds of people who got
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: shot and the kinds of people who did the shootingwere often very almost like mirror images.It could just be good luck, bad luckthat you were shot one day, as opposed to doing the shooting.Most of the research in Manchestershowed that the people who'd done the shootinghad themselves been shot at.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: The people who'd been shot at, murder victimshad themselves shot at other people in the past.It was symmetrical.And none of them wanted to resort to the policeto resolve their issues, because that would make them a egress.That would open up the police opportunitiesto get into the community, and the gangs justdidn't want to do that.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: All they wanted to sort out their own problems,and certainly didn't want the police involved.So that was important.And of course, the way the police were going about itwas often making it harder to break into communities,which is another story.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: In the end, the project on the lasted a year.But we came out of it with a lot of useful informationabout gangs, gang structures, the circulationand distribution of guns through gang structures.And it-- in some ways it played against the story
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: that was often circulating in the media.That these were chaotic young men,leading chaotic and dangerous lives.And that the streets of Manchesterwere awash with firearms in the handsof chaotic, impetuous young men.I mean, if you have been like, it would've been a bloodbath,and it wasn't a bloodbath.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: So one of the lessons about this isthat gangs were social groups, and actedwith a degree of restraint.They didn't always kill other people.Partly because they didn't alwayshave real guns to kill people with.One part of the story.Secondly, it was also clear that a lot of shootings, or what
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: the police called gun discharges,weren't necessarily attempts to kill.There was a lot of talk, and rightly so, it'sa horrific thing, about drive-by shootings.You know, what a random act that is.But often they weren't quite so random.A drive-by shooting would often involve
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: shooting your front door, or shooting up your car.This is not spraying guns into-- spraying bulletsinto a crowd of people.It was what some people have referred to asa kind of ballistic graffiti.Shooting to send a message.We know where you are.We know where you live, and we can do this.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: Dangerous.Reckless.Yes.But not necessarily an unmitigated attempt to kill.So it was taking some of the drama out of the gang story.Gangs were social groups.They restrained their members, as well as empowered them.It wasn't murderous, blood-lust all the time.
PETER SQUIRES [continued]: And it wasn't always underpinned by an arsenalwhat was quite as lethal as sometimes the media suggested.I think it's important to know that.Gangs still are a problem, but they were notthe problem they were painted to be often by the media,and by the police.[MUSIC PLAYING]