Gangs and Gun Crime

Gun crime makes up a very small percentage of all crimes committed in Lancashire, but we recognise there is an emerging issue with this type of crime in certain areas.

The vast majority of incidents we deal with tend to involve imitation firearms, but we take these seriously as they intend to cause fear.

Anyone who is found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm faces a minimum sentence of five years.

It's also illegal to sell realistic imitation guns, even if they can't be turned into weapons that fire real ammunition, and you have to be at least 17 years old before you can possess an air rifle.

Gun crime includes any crime that involves the use of a gun or firearm. This includes:

  • A murder where the victim was shot
  • Any situation where a gun was fired, whether anyone was injured or not
  • A robbery or burglary where the thieves carried a gun as a weapon
  • intimidating people with a firearm
  • Carrying a gun that is banned, like a handgun
  • Carrying or using an imitation gun
  • Hiding a gun or keeping it for someone else
  • Owning a gun without a licence

Advice and support

  • If you suspect that someone is carrying a gun, do not approach them. Even if you think the weapon may be a replica, take the situation seriously and report it.
  • Never carry a replica gun in public. There have been tragic incidents in the past where police officers have assumed that a weapon is real, and have responded accordingly.
  • It is illegal to carry air guns, even unloaded, in a public place without authority or good reason.
  • It’s illegal to buy or sell air weapons that use a self-contained gas cartridge system to fire pellets.
  • You're more likely to be a victim of gun crime if you carry a gun yourself.

Operation Nemesis

Operation Nemesis is our response to gang related violence and tensions, which includes gun crime. Currently, Operation Nemesis is focused on South Division, primarily Skelmersdale and Preston.

It is about disrupting and dismantling those involved in organised crime and is designed to tackle groups of youths intimidating people, young people causing a nuisance on motorbikes and drugs supply, as well as the violence and anti-social behaviour that comes hand in hand with drug dealing.

The operation is supported by officers from all departments including Immediate Response Officers, Armed Response Officers, Dogs and Operational Support Units along with Road Policing Officers. The local Neighbourhood Policing Teams are also huge part of this operation.

Four principles of Operation Nemesis

1. Pursue

We will execute warrants at addresses of people suspected of being involved in criminality. We will be proactive in arresting people suspected of committing crime and strive to remand them in custody at every opportunity.

2. Prevent

There will be extra patrols in higher risk areas to prevent crime.

3. Protect

We are being supported by West Lancashire Borough Council/Preston City Council as well as other agencies and we have specialist officers who will look to use civil and legal orders to protect your neighbourhoods by restricting the movement and behaviour of criminals.

4. Prepare

This involves early intervention and diverting youths away from gangs, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Sophisticated intelligence gathering is ongoing in relation to organised crime. We will conduct raids in response to this intelligence to address the problem in the areas where it exists. Individuals known to be associated with organised crime and organised crime groups are also actively targeted.

Our local communities are a vital source of intelligence and we need them to help us to keep them safe by telling us what they know and turning rumour into hard evidence.

New technology and legislation can help people come forward who otherwise would have been too frightened to. We can offer complete anonymity and protection.

There are people within our local communities who know the individuals who are involved in organised crime/organised crime groups. We need these people to come forward and tell as a matter of urgency.

How to report gun crime

If you see someone with a gun in a public place, call 999 but do so without drawing attention to yourself.

If you believe that someone has a gun without a licence, even if they are looking after it for someone else, tell us by calling 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers who can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at

If you believe that someone who holds a licensed shotgun or firearm certificate is using or storing their guns irresponsibly or without the right level of security call 101, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers.

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