The Home Secretary said the continued use of guns in UK cities is a “major concern” as she pledged more cash to get weapons off the streets in the wake of the Liverpool shootings.
On Friday, Priti Patel met police officers and visited the scene where Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, was shot dead by a gunman who chased his intended target into her home.
It comes as Ms 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.
Ms 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.
Ms 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.
Ms 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, Ms Patel said.
“It’s a care package, effectively, for local residents”, she added.