THE number of firearms incidents across the Bradford district rose by more than a third last year – with the number involving people rising by 40 per cent, new figures have revealed.

Police recorded 134 firearms discharges in 2016, but this figure rose to 182 incidents last year, an increase of 36 per cent.

The figures were branded “hugely concerning” by one local MP, but police stated that the data included all incidents involving firearms, including discharges from weapons used without “criminal intent”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Statistics provided by West Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act showed that of the 134 firearms incidents across the district in 2016, 96 were in Bradford, 21 in Keighley, 13 in Shipley, two in Ilkley, one in Bingley, and one in an unstated location.

In 2017, the number of incidents in Bradford rose to 140, an increase of 46 per cent.

The amount of incidents in Keighley fell to 17, but the figures rose in Shipley to 20, an increase of 54 per cent, and also in Ilkley, which saw three incidents, and Bingley, which saw two.

In 2016, the number of incidents in which firearms were shot at ‘a person’ stood at 35, with 25 resulting in injuries. A total of 24 of the injuries were categorised by police as ‘slight’, with one incident proving fatal, the shooting of Imran Khan in Round Street, West Bowling, Bradford, in June of that year.

In 2017, the number of firearms incidents involving people rose to 49, an increase of 40 per cent, resulting in 40 injuries, a 60 per cent increase from 2016.

Of the 40, 38 were recorded as ‘slight’, and while there were no fatal incidents, two shootings resulted in ‘serious’ injuries.

In 2016, 66 incidents were recorded in which a firearm was discharged at a residential property, with 16 fired at a public highway.

Other buildings targeted included pubs, shops, an amusement arcade, and a police station.

In 2017, the number of firearms discharged at houses rose to 85, an increase of 29 per cent.

A total of 21 incidents involved firearms being aimed at a public highway, with targets again including shops, pubs, vehicles, and also buildings including churches, a masonic lodge, a signal box, and a nursery.

Of the incidents in 2016, 19 involved either handguns or a long-barrelled or sawn-off shotgun.

The most common discharges, totalling 77 of the incidents, involved an air weapon, with ball-bearing guns fired on 31 occasions.

In 2017, 18 incidents involved handguns or shotguns, with ball-bearing guns recorded on 65 occasions.

The most common discharges again involved air weapons, used 86 times, with other incidents involving CS gas, pepper spray, and on one occasion, a machine gun.

Commenting on the data, Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: “These figures are hugely concerning, and this sort of serious, violent crime is a great worry to the public.

“This is why I repeatedly call for more funding for the police and tougher sentences handed out by the courts. We must drive these criminals from the streets.”

Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South, added: “The availability and use of firearms in Bradford is a real concern and it is worrying to see that the number of firearms discharges has risen again this year.

“I know that West Yorkshire Police are committed to dealing with incidents involving firearms and the crimes connected to them.

“But our police are being asked to do more with less. Their budgets have come under severe pressure from the Government, with the latest figures showing West Yorkshire Police have lost almost 1,000 officers since 2010.”

John Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley, said gun crime had fallen in the early part of the 21st century as a result of legislation which reduced access to firearms. He said: “The recent increase is associated largely with gang and drug-related offences.

“I have to say I also agree with the Police Federation who say that cuts in police numbers over the last decade have not helped when it comes to gathering vital intelligence.”

West Yorkshire Police said that firearms discharges were a “serious matter” that understandably caused concerns in local communities.

Superintendent Jon Morgan said: “With a continued commitment to accurately record crime, West Yorkshire Police has seen an increase in the overall use of firearms, but this should be put into context.

“The figures include all forms of firearms, ranging from lethal weapons used for a criminal purpose to ball-bearing guns and air weapons that have not been used with any criminal intent.”

He said that, in the last 12 months, Bradford had seen discharges resulting in serious injury or fatality reduce by a quarter.

“It is important to note that a very small number of these discharges resulted in serious injury or worse, and that these incidents were targeted against individuals.”