§ Mr. Paul Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of banning handguns on reducing crime in the Shrewsbury Division of West Mercia Constabulary. 
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
The legislation to prohibit handguns introduced in 1997 was a response to the tragic shootings at Dunblane primary school in 1996 in which 16 children and their teacher lost their lives. It was not expected in itself to solve the wider problem of the criminal use of firearms.
I understand that West Mercia Constabulary recorded 17 firearms incidents in the Shropshire area in 1999 and 12 such incidents in 2000. There has been one such incident so far this year. West Mercia Constabulary have not identified any particular problem with handgun crime or other armed crime in the Shrewsbury area.