New weapon to aid Scottish police's gun crime fight

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Media captionEvery gun, firearm, or bullet used in a crime will be entered on the database

Scottish police have announced a new weapon in the fight against gun crime.

Using computer techniques they will identify weapons more quickly and link firearms incidents across the UK.

Previously it was possible to compare firearms and ballistic materials such as cartridges and bullets for links with other crimes.

But the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Nabis) will allow police to check databases in England and eventually parts of Europe.

Within 48 hours of the material from a firearms incident being examined, it can be compared on a computer screen with others used perhaps years ago and hundreds of miles away.

Ballistic material

Police said this would provide them with vital intelligence and help get more guns off the streets.

The system has already been used in the hunt for the killers of Nairn banker Alistair Wilson, who was shot with a rare type of Eastern European pistol.

But detectives would not say if they had made progress in the investigation into the killing seven years ago.

Nabis will provide a complete register of all firearms and ammunition coming in to police possession across Scotland, England and Wales.

Every gun, firearm, bullet or piece of ballistic material used in a crime will be forwarded for submission to the Scottish Nabis hub.

It will be forensically tested, analysed and linked with all associated intelligence on the Nabis database.

Tom Nelson, of the Scottish Police Services Authority, said: "Every gun tells a story - Nabis seeks to unlock these stories.

"By bringing together science, intelligence and technology we can unravel where a firearm has been used, by whom and why."

He added: "By giving investigative officers these tools, Nabis will help bring more people to justice, get more guns off the streets, and ultimately prevent them from being obtained in the first instance."

Det Supt Alan Buchanan, chair of the criminal use of firearms group for the chief police officers' association, said: "Although gun crime is rare and accounts for less than 1% of all crime in Scotland, whenever a gun is fired or used by a criminal it has an impact.

"We are determined to tackle the use of guns on our streets.

"Nabis will give us vital intelligence and forensic information right at the beginning of our investigation, helping us to bring more people to justice and make our streets safer."