Home Secretary Priti Patel said the continued use of guns in UK cities is a “major concern” in the wake of three shootings in Liverpool.
Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, died after a gunman shot her dead and injured her mother as he chased another man, his intended target, into her family home.
Her death sparked a massive outcry about guns, the state of organised crime in Britain and the police’s response to it.
In a visit to Merseyside, the Home Secretary pledged more cash to get weapons off the streets in the wake of the Liverpool shootings.
Mrs Patel said the Home Office will give Merseyside Police an extra £350,000 to focus on “getting weapons off the streets” and tackling organised crime. She also launched a £150,000 “care package” for Liverpool residents.
Mrs Patel is yet to meet Olivia’s family but told reporters she is “getting in contact” with them and said her thoughts are with them at this “really devastating and sad time.”
Asked how concerned she is about the continued use of firearms in the UK’s big cities, Ms Patel replied: “This is a major concern.”
But she praised the “outstanding” record Merseyside Police has in tackling gun crime and serious violence.
Mrs Patel said: “Merseyside police force, in particular, has got an outstanding record, actually, of dealing with serious violence over the last three years, getting more guns off the streets, but also getting weapons off the streets as well, knives in particular.
“Over the last 13 months, there’s been a very low use of firearms in Merseyside because of the preventative work that Merseyside as a force have been leading on, which is very significant and, in fact, other police forces are looking at a national level at Merseyside to look at much of the preventative work that they’ve been leading here.”
The £350,000 will be used to expand a pilot, as part of efforts to tackle organised crime in Merseyside, while the £150,000 will provide trauma and mental health support in the Liverpool and Knowsley areas, the Home Office said.
Mrs Patel said: “There’s a lot of policing activity … There’s a lot of national support that is going into the current operation.
“I have been working very much with the mayor of Liverpool and the police chief to provide a lot of additional support.
“Today, I am announcing additional support for the local community … that will cover a lot of the trauma support for local families, for local residents”.
That will extend to schools, including Olivia’s, she added.
“It’s a care package, effectively, for local residents”, she added.
There have been two other fatal shooting incidents in Liverpool in the past few weeks.
The killing of Olivia Pratt-Korbel was the third death involving a gun in or around Liverpool in August.
There were also three deaths in London in July and a fourth in August.
It follows a short period of time when guns appeared to be out nof the hands of criminal gangs.
Covid lockdowns, intensive policing and a breakthrough in the fight against organised crime were thought to be reducing firearms crimes overall.
But Merseyside that scenario pappeard to be changing with shots fired at houses, vehicles and people.
A review of police statements detail men and women found with injuries in the street or turning up at hospitals with gunshot wounds.
On the night of 16 August, Sam Rimmer, 20, was shot dead in a cul-de-sac in Dingle, close to the banks of the Mersey, as he walked with a group of friends.
Police have said his alleged attackers were two men who fired from motorbikes before riding off. Three men were arrested on Wednesday.
Then in the early hours of Sunday morning Ashley Dale, 28, was found by police with gunshot wounds in a garden in the Old Swan neighbourhood of the city.
Police believe she was not the intended victim of the attack and the gunman is still on the run. They are trying to trace a car driven into Leinster Road 10 minutes before the shooting.