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Shooting incidents in London have almost doubled compared with the same period last year, prompting grave concerns that gun crime in some areas is out of control.

Scotland Yard has admitted a 17% rise in overall firearms offences, although the Metropolitan police chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, has put that down to a blip. Stephenson last week dropped a plan to put routine armed patrols on the streets, saying that although gun crime had risen it was still lower than two years ago and he was not willing to sanction such a dramatic departure from the principle of unarmed policing. However, the true scale of the increases is contained in figures being presented on Thursday to the Metropolitan police authority.

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