With the television drama “The Wire” airing in London, British political and law enforcement leaders find themselves defending their streets from comparisons to inner-city Baltimore, says the Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton. England is a country where guns are rare – both among citizens and the police who walk the streets – and where drugs are harder to come by. Baltimore’s murder rate, one of the highest in the U.S., well outstrips Great Britain’s, one of the lowest in the world.
Still, British police report a 17 percent increase in total gun crimes this year, and a doubling of punishment or “respect” shootings where the intent is not to kill. Nationally, 87 percent of British residents believe gun crime is on the rise, with an even greater margin – 93 percent – who believe knife crime is increasing, perhaps fueled by a spate of youth stabbings last year that had parents purchasing body armor for their children. “We have a very, very low murder rate for a reason,” said London Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse. “And the reason is that we take it very, very seriously.”