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New podcast takes a hard-hitting look at the impact of firearms

Date 11.01.2021

In a new podcast from The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, two University of Northampton academics explore how and why firearms are at the heart of organised crime.

Senior Lecturers in Law, Nick Cartwright, and Dr Simon Sneddon are part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, which aims to integrate crime prevention and other rule of law aspects into education across the globe – from primary and secondary schools through to University.

In this podcast, the UON duo explore the role of firearms in power, trade, and influence within the criminal world and the impact this has on criminal justice systems in the UK and around the globe.

In the podcast, hosted by Paul Ianovici, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, at the UNODC, Dr Simon Sneddon sets the scene for how firearms act as tools of power within criminal organisations.

Simon charts the movement of firearms within the criminal world, from their acquisition through theft or illegal manufacture or transformation, before being utilised in violent crimes, given as a perk of promotion within organised crime gangs (OCGs), and traded as a commodity to circumnavigate law enforcement detection measures.

Simon said: “Firearms continue to facilitate crime and criminal behaviour across the globe, the way they’re used by OCGs is a still not yet fully understood, or charted, but the impacts are felt acutely by the victims of crime and law enforcement who aim to deter, detect and disrupt criminality, before bringing criminals to justice.”

Nick Cartwright explained how new technology is changing the dynamic of firearms tracking and detection, he said: “The development of 3D printing technology has led to criminals exploiting this to create firearms. These firearms have no serial numbers, traditionally used by law enforcement to trace firearms, and are constructed predominantly from plastics, which makes them challenging to detect, often called ghost firearms, these are a significant challenge for law enforcement.

“With a standard computer and a 3D printer, easily available on the open market, criminals have been able to access plans from the internet and construct these untraceable weapons. As seen in the UK case of Tendai Muswere, who plead guilty at Southwark Crown Court to the charge of manufacturing a 3D printed gun. However, the supply of ammunition continues to be the biggest challenge for criminals for these firearms. “

The podcast also explores the criminal justice response, internationally and regionally facilitated by the United Nations, which encourages nations across the world, regardless of their stances on firearms and the legal framework their country to cooperate to fight the criminal impact of firearms.

You can listen to the podcast here on the UNODC website