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London Police Service cracking down on illegal firearms

Erika Faust | Interrobang | News | February 14th, 2011

The London Police Service is one of 17 police services across Ontario to receive a grant through the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy. This means a 41 per cent increase in funding over the next two years to help prevent gun and gang violence in communities across Ontario.

The local police service has had PAVIS funding since 2009. "The latest announcement takes our funding, over a two-year period, close to $1 million, which we will use directly for gun-related offences and investigations," said London Police Chief Brad Duncan.

London Police Service created a gun unit in 2006 to crack down on illegal firearms in the city.

"In total, (since 2006,) we've seized 233 guns, we've executed 178 search warrants, we've arrested 441 persons and laid a total of 1,216 criminal charges, which is a phenomenal amount of work over that period of time," said Duncan.

He added that 132 of those guns seizures are attributable to the funding provided by PAVIS.

According to Duncan, the police service has also seized 36 other weapons of various descriptions, including edged weapons and crossbows; 20,000 rounds of ammunition; and nine bulletproof vests. He said other weapons of note that were seized included a 50 caliber machine gun and a WWII Tommy gun.

The police service chose to target illegal weapons because of the subcultures the weapons are tied to. "Our strategy here ... is (to find) weapons that are actually being used in the drug trade or in the gang subculture," explained Duncan. In addition to the criminal charges laid since 2006, the London Police Service has laid over 600 drug charges.

"We've known for a long time that gang activity is one of those borderless crimes," said Duncan. "Generally, you would think that a situation in London would be really specific to our city, but we know that gang activity is up and down the 401 corridor. Some of this activity, gun activity, gang activity and drug activity is very migratory."

"(The funding) really benefits at a provincial level, not simply London only. Everybody benefits as a result of this funding. What we do is create a safer environment here, but we're also able to do that across a number of communities."
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