Scotland Yard's Operation Trident team: One-in-three victims of black-on-black gun crime are teenagers
On the day of the funeral of 16-year-old Billy Cox, who was shot dead at his family's south London home on Valentine's Day, police chiefs claimed more and more young people are pulling guns to settle disputes over issues as trivial as spilling a drink.
Teenagers now account for almost a third of all victims of "black-on-black" shootings in London, according to Trident - the police unit set up to deal with the crimes.
And more and more teenagers are carrying guns, it was claimed.
Head of Trident, Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, said she was now focusing on young gangsters with guns, including mules - children who carry weapons for older gang members - instead of adults, who were the focus just nine years ago.
She said black youths were now a larger proportion of all shooting victims than in previous years, saying: "We are changing targets. Those involved in gun crime are younger as a proportion of all our victims.
"In 2006, 31 per cent of all Trident shooting victims were teenagers and they are our key focus for this year. We know that is what we must tackle.
"We are not particularly targeting young children who carry guns for others, although there is a little evidence that this problem exists."
DCS Ball also pledged to crack down on gun suppliers, saying: "We are going after people who supply guns and pass them onto people, and that includes ammunition."
She was speaking at a press conference to launch an advertising campaign encouraging youngsters to report gun crime. The ad, which was first screened in 2005, features black teenagers with 'blood on their hands' who know about weapons but fail to report them to cops.
DCS Ball continued: "I think this particular video is very powerful and it could have helped save Billy Cox's life. I would hope there may be a boy whose death could be prevented by someone seeing this video and reporting someone who has got a gun to police.
"At the moment we are trying to reach young people aged from 11 to 12 up to 16. That fits entirely within the sad deaths of three young boys in February."
The death of Billy Cox came a week after the fatal shootings of two other teenagers in south London this February. Michael Dosunmu, 15, was shot dead in his bed in Peckham while 16 year-old James Smartt-Ford was gunned down at Streatham Ice Rink during a disco.
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