In London, 85% of gun murder suspects were black and so were 75% of victims
A Home Office minister has declared that there is no evidence to suggest that young black men are more responsible for gun crime than whites.
Baroness Scotland said it would be "dangerous" to suggest that Afro-Caribbean youths were disproportionately more likely to be involved with firearms.
The minister's claim stunned MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee, which heard evidence only last month from the Metropolitan Police that black men are more likely to be suspects and victims of gun crime.
The committee has also been told by the Mayor of London's police adviser Lee Jasper and other leading figures that gun culture is a particular problem in the black community.
Following a spate of gun murders in London in recent weeks, Tony Blair himself insisted the capital and other areas were suffering specific problems among specific communities.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner-told MPs last month that black gangs in London were copying Jamaican Yardie tactics.
She said that in London 85 per cent of gun murder suspects were black and so were 75 per cent of victims.
But Baroness Scotland claimed that because the Home Office had no official data on the issue, no conclusions could be drawn about racial involvement in firearms offences.
"To do a quantum leap, which is quite dangerous, to saying this is solely or predominantly a black issue as opposed to a general issue in relation to guns, would be a profound mistake," she told the committee.
"I think it is really important not to conflate these two issues in relation to gun crime and the disproportionality of black and minority ethnic people in the criminal justice system, because, as we know with knives and with gangs, these are issues which tragically impinge on all of the communities.
"The data we currently have doesn't indicate a bias towards one ethnic group or another," she added.
Labour MP David Winnick asked Baroness Scotland if she felt that it was "racist" to even suggest that black men were more involved in gun crime. But she ducked the question.
The minister said that young people of all races were more likely to be involved in gun crime. She also said that it was too simplistic to say black people were more likely to be in jail as a result of discrimination.
Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said there was evidence that violent gangs were on the increase. "Gangs are becoming more organised and becoming more concerned about what their gang thinks than what society and their community think," he said.
Baroness Scotland conceded that gang culture was a problem for black families. "Parents from black communities are concerned about how their young people are almost being seduced away from their way of living to these alternative cultures.
"It is as if they are in a cult and they have got to get them out," she said.
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