Call for action over gun crime in Doncaster

Priti Patel was held at gun point on Wednesday night a her and her husband, Ashwin, shop R.J News, Conisbrough. Picture: Andrew Roe
Priti Patel was held at gun point on Wednesday night a her and her husband, Ashwin, shop R.J News, Conisbrough. Picture: Andrew Roe
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A crime victim and a former police sergeant are calling for more action to tackle gun crime - after figures revealed at least one person is injured every week in firearms incidents.

A total of 274 people have been hurt or seriously injured in firearms related offences including murders, robberies and assaults across South Yorkshire since 2010 - which equals more than one a week.

Frank Knapton MBE, of Mexborough stands infront of the River Don as he is complaining about the smell caused by a sewerage spill. Picture: Andrew Roe

Frank Knapton MBE, of Mexborough stands infront of the River Don as he is complaining about the smell caused by a sewerage spill. Picture: Andrew Roe

There has been 1,822 gun-related crimes committed in the area over the last five years.

A Doncaster shopkeeper who was the victim of an attempted armed robbery and a retired copper are both calling for more to be done to get guns off our streets. Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton is also backing their calls.

Ashwin Patel, 55, and his wife Priti, 49, were left terrified after two men burst into their R.J. News shop in Conisbrough brandishing handguns and demanding money in April last year.

The duo fled empty handed but the raid left a lasting impression on their victims.

Mr Patel said: “Just my wife was in the shop at the time and I was out but both of us are still shaken up by it. My wife won’t stay in the shop alone anymore. Anyone convicted of gun crimes should get harsher sentences. This might put other people off from using a gun.”

Former police sergeant Frank Knapton MBE, who served for 25 years in the constabulary in South Yorkshire and London, also called for more action.

The 78-year-old, of Morton Road, Mexborough, said: “Early in my career I had to jump on a gunman who was holding up a shop and arrest him. It is very frightening.

“The police are doing some good work, but there needs to be more training for officers to deal with firearms incidents and we need to have more school programmes to highlight the dangers of firearms.

“The gun amnesty schemes, where people hand over weapons without facing prosecution, are a good idea but there should be more.”

Labour has pledged to tighten the law so no-one with a history of domestic or sexual violence would be given an unrestricted gun licence.

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton said: “These figures are a concern. Gun crime is very serious and I believe more needs to be done to continue tackling this kind of violence.”

The figures, unearthed in a Freedom of Information Act submitted by The Star, include all recorded crimes in which a firearm was used, possessed, brandished, or seen being used either directly for or in association with any type of crime.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Gun crime in South Yorkshire is relatively low and accounts for only 0.2 percent of all crime in the county, however we are determined to reduce this figure even further.

“A variety of tactical and strategic activities are conducted across the force through means of education, operations and targeting organised criminality groups in a bid to reduce gun crime.

“A firearms amnesty was also held in November last year that resulted in over 50 firearms and 600 rounds of ammunition handed in to the police and therefore removed from the streets and out of circulation.

“We are committed in continuing to decrease the number of firearms offences in South Yorkshire.”