Internet shopping 'fuels gun smuggling', says West Midlands police chief

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Dave Thompson has headed the Criminal Use of Firearms portfolio and National Gangs portfolio since 2011

The "boom" in internet shopping is helping criminals smuggle guns into Britain, a police chief has warned.

Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said incidents of weapons arriving though "fast parcel systems" were becoming more common.

Mr Thompson, the national lead on countering firearms, said officers had seen a surge in the number of guns circulating in the country.

He said a main risk was the guns being used for terrorism offences.

'More globalised world'

Mr Thompson said it was "more likely" to be small weapons or gun components that were smuggled by post.

"The switch we have seen over the last few years is that people in this country who are wanting to buy [guns] will sometimes try to facilitate the sale through the internet," he said.

"And they will try and bring them through fast parcel systems and postal systems, rather than someone personally smuggling them in across the border. So we have to be alert to that."

He said the crime was an emerging risk of "a more globalised world".

Mr Thompson said: "We do identify and capture a number of weapons coming into the country and what I would say to people who bring them in is that we run some very successful operations then to find the person, where the destination of the parcel was, to go and arrest them."

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Mr Thompson earlier told the Guardian that guns and ammunition were still hard to acquire in the UK and officers had increased their focus on stopping their sale, in light of the attacks on Paris in November.

He told the newspaper the firearms were coming from the US and Europe, with Germany causing particular concerns.

He said the Paris attacks had been a "game changer" for counter-terrorism chiefs while officers were also seeing "a trend" of criminals disassembling weapons and sending them in component parts.

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