Guns were used in 178 crimes in Sheffield last year – including the rape of a child, attempted murder, kidnappings and robbery.
Figures, disclosed exclusively to The Star, show that between October 2015 and September 2016, police officers investigated one threat to kill involving a gun, 20 assaults where firearms were used or seen and 32 robberies also involving the use or threat of a gun.
One child under 16 reported being raped at gunpoint.
There were 21 incidents in Sheffield in which people were shot – 15 assaults, two attempted murders, one kidnapping and three robberies.
Police chiefs in South Yorkshire say the majority of shootings and firearms incidents involve gang members associated with drug dealing.
Sheffield’s District Commander Chief Superintendent David Hartley said gangs carry or use guns to ‘threaten, enforce and intimidate’.
And he warned that those involved with the ‘lucrative’ drugs trade ‘are not afraid to use firearms to injure or kill’.
“Those who carry or use firearms do so to threaten, enforce and intimidate.
It’s predominantly to enforce their criminal lifestyle, or it is about status and intimidation as opposed to using them with a deliberate intent to end someone’s life, but we do see that,” he said.
“The times where we are faced with someone with a firearm who is actively trying to hurt or kill someone is rare, very rare indeed, and the risk to the public going about their day-to-day business is low, but people can be reckless as to where they use them, so the risk is there.”
But he stressed South Yorkshire Police is determined to reduce the availability and use of firearms in the city, with a dedicated team set up to identify and break up drug dealing gangs and prosecute members at all levels of the chain.
Last year there were 83 guns seized by the force, including nine shot guns, nine handguns, 11 replicas and 30 air weapons.