There were dozens of incidents of gun crime in Dorset in the past year, according to new figures, but the rate remains below the national average.
Data from the Office for National Statistics show Dorset Police recorded 42 firearm offences in the year to March this year, up from 40 the year prior.
But that equates to a crime rate that’s half the national average with five gun offences for every 100,000 people in the area last year: nationally there were 10 per every 100,000 people.
Dorset Police said it remained committed to helping make Dorset ‘one of the safest counties in the country’.
A spokesman added that a number of the incidents in the past year involved offenders from ‘outside the country’ and ‘reflected’ the work done by Dorset Police to tackle county lines and organised crime.
Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan, of Dorset Police, said: “We have some of the toughest gun controls in the world and the figures show that Dorset is well below the national average.
“Our officers remain committed to helping to make Dorset one of the safest counties in the country.
“Where intelligence is received indicating the possession of weapons or the intent to commit crime, Dorset Police will proactively act on that information to protect our communities.
“We are also committed to prevention work, which includes our Tactical Firearms Unit visiting schools to raise awareness of the dangers of possessing firearms and knives.
“We acknowledge there is more work to be done locally and nationally with partner agencies to identify those intent on carrying weapons and prevent the terrible consequences of gun crime.
“Much of our education and prevention work is also focussed on knife crime, which is the reason for many of our armed responses, and we are working with partners to get the message across that no good can come from carrying a knife.
“The current number of crimes involving the use of weapons is still very low and our communities should be assured Dorset is still one of the safest counties in the country."
Anyone with concerns around people carrying illegal firearms is urged to contact Dorset Police.