Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Policing and Community Safety, Councillor Ron Aitken saw at first hand the effects of guns on the streets of Haringey when he accompanied police officers in the London Borough of Haringey as they worked the night shift on Friday/Saturday 16/17 September. Within minutes of the shift starting, officers were called to a shooting in Tottenham.

“Seeing at first hand the effect of guns on our streets was a real eye-opener,” said Cllr Aitken. “Because of the need to protect the public and recover any weapons used, as well as to apprehend the assailant, these incidents demand a large police presence which may have a knock-on effect on other police work. This is the challenge the police and community face because gun-enabled crime has increased by 50% in Haringey.

“I am extremely grateful to Chief Superintendent Stephen Bloomfield for arranging for me to accompany his officers on the night shift.

“Over the eight hours the police dealt with a wide variety of situations, from a shooting to disorder and burglaries. I was deeply impressed with their professionalism. Political leaders must address the issue of police resources.”

With regard to reports that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has considered the use of soldiers as firearms backup to the police, Cllr Aitken, who worked in Northern Ireland for six years at the height of the troubles, firmly rejected this option:

“The police operate very effectively with the consent of the local community as a protective force. The use of the army on the streets of London is simply not appropriate.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and Liberal Democrats spokesperson for Police, Crime and Disorder in Parliament said:

“Bringing external people with professional skills into our police force is a good idea – particularly in areas like fraud which are extremely complex..

“However, using ex-soldiers armed on our streets is quite a different matter and would seem to imply we were at war.”