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'Bond' guns boost London crime

Another 40 armed officers are being deployed onto London streets

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LONDON, England -- Extra armed police are being drafted onto the streets of London to tackle a surge of shootings -- many involving the same type of handgun used by fictional spy James Bond.

Announcing the extra patrols, London police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said many gangsters were arming themselves with the Walther PPK used by Ian Fleming's agent in the Bond movies.

This was now the "weapon of choice for today's modern gunman," he said on Thursday. "There is no 'street cred' in a sawn-off shotgun for the majority of today's armed criminals."

Most London shootings are related to drug-fuelled turf wars between Jamaican-based "Yardies" and increasingly, in some areas, Turkish and Kurdish gangs.

Police say there have been 200 shootings in the last eight months, compared with 171 in the same period last year, with 22 murders.

Last year there were 38 fatal shootings compared with 19 in 1992. Officers are now seizing an average of 144 guns every month.

Hours before Thursday's announcement, two unarmed policemen were shot at as they pursued a suspect in the north London district of Islington.

Two weeks ago in the same area, a policeman was shot in the stomach following a chase and is still in hospital.

The PPK is now the gunman's weapon of choice

That same day four plain-clothes officers were shot at when they approached two suspected drug dealers.

"The threat to officers must not be underestimated. We have identified some worrying trends in gun-crime in London that are giving us serious cause for concern -- both the threat to the public and our own officers," Stevens said.

Last month mothers grieving over children killed in the drug wars on the capital's streets marched to Blair's Downing Street residence to demand tougher action.

Stevens said he hoped to have another 40 specialist armed officers by next year along with another two armed response units.

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