Police will have “no choice” but to shoot armed child

Officials have warned it is inevitable that an armed police officer will one day have “no choice” but to shoot a child brandishing a gun.

Jon Murphy, head of the gun crime task force at the Home Office, described the scenario as a “classic no-win situation”.

He explained that as soon as any child points a gun at an officer “the officer will have no choice but to shoot”.

Speaking to the Times after the European Serious Organised Crime Conference in Liverpool, he said he could not see a way the “awful scenario” would not happen, based on current trends.

“Fifteen years ago a gang feud may have been settled with a fist fight, ten years ago with a knife fight but now it will be guns,” Mr Murphy said.

He continued: “The volatility of these kids may make them pull the trigger. If they are challenged by an armed officer it is their inability to rationalise what is happening that will put the officer in a difficult position.”

There has been a 20 per cent rise in the number of young people prosecuted for firearms offences over the past five years, with reports that children as young as eight are now using guns to solve disputes.

Police officers report concerns that gang leaders are increasingly using younger teenagers to store or carry firearms because of the perception they are less likely to be seriously punished.

Also addressing the conference, head of the Metropolitan police Sir Ian Blair said the availability of illegal firearms could be blamed in part on Lithuanian gangs trafficking guns into Britain.

These then end up in the hands “of those too young, too bad or too foolish to do anything other than shoot each other with them,” Sir Ian said.