§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to reduce the number of firearm offences. 
§ Caroline Flint
Our developing programme to tackle gun crime includestackling the links to drug supply and crime;reducing the supply and availability of firearms;effective police operations to drive down firearm offences;tough laws and effective enforcement; andengaging the worst affected communities to address the underlying gun culture.
We are working closely with the police and other agencies to ensure that the lessons learned from their experience in tackling gun crime are built upon. A detailed action plan to keep action to tackle gun crime at the forefront of the police agenda has been developed and is being implemented.
In addition, the National Firearms Forensic Intelligence Database, launched on 25 November 2003, will provide a central database of seized weapons and help trace guns used in crimes and improve detection.
Asylum Appeals determined by adjudicators of the Immigration Appellate Authority, excluding dependants1 Number of principal appellants Appeals determined by adjudicators Allowed2 Dismissed2 Withdrawn2 Appeals received by the Home Office 3,4 Appeals received by the IAA 5 Total determined 4 Total As %of total determined Total As % of total determined Total As % of total determined 2003 01 212,600 18,090 20,595 3,480 17 16,445 80 670 3 Q2 210,800 17,835 19,345 4,060 21 14,875 77 415 2 Q3 210,900 18,330 21,500 4,270 20 16,805 78 420 2 Latest 12 months October 4,965 4,475 5,980 1,170 20 4,620 77 190 3 November 3,740 6,080 5,585 1,185 21 4,270 76 130 2 December 3,575 6,110 5,050 960 19 3,920 78 170 3 January 23,400 6,015 7,210 1,265 18 5,690 79 255 4 February 24,000 6,025 6,545 975 15 5,350 82 220 3
We are also engaging with communities to help steer young people away from gun crime and gun culture. We are:providing support for the Disarm Trust, which is providing direct support for community groups working to reduce gun crime, supporting victims of gun crime and providing help for witnesses;allocating £1.2 million of recovered assets receipts to help tackle gun crime; andrunning a major event on 19 to 20 January 2004, which will bring together community representatives, activists, voluntary groups and young people, leading to a sustained community-focused campaign against gun crime and gun culture.
This action will be supported by the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which will see a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for possession or distribution of prohibited weapons or ammunition, and by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, which will raise the age limit to 17 for owning air weapons, ban the possession of air weapons and imitations in public without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, and ban the possession, sale and import of self contained air cartridge weapons.