GUNFIRE GRAFFITI UK is a privately funded gun crime project founded in 2008. It finds, investigates and records evidence of roadside gunfire damage. That is the discharge of firearms into steel/alloy road sign structures. This is predominately in rural areas but examples have been found in urban locations. Whilst these practises are nothing new and indeed unsurprising in some parts of the world it is perhaps difficult to accept and believe that it is relatively commonplace in the UK.
Lack of awareness and “gun savvy” make it easy for the perpetrators to illegally experiment and rehearse with all types of firearms. Shootings are often from within the confines of passing vehicles. The UK has strict gun laws but many of these shootings reveal the use of firearms that are banned from legal ownership. The WHAT can be recognised and WHERE is there for all to find and see. The WHEN can be calculated and we can surmise at WHY. The big question is WHO.
We do know that Michael Ryan who perpetrated the Hungerford Massacre in 1987 went out at night in his car and carried out these type of shootings. He even admitted this to an employer before his rampage and Thames Valley Police found evidence close to Hungerford after his killing spree. The American gangster and gunman Clyde Barrow, (of Bonnie and Clyde fame), did the same in the 1930’s. He would hone his shooting skills on roadside targets in preparation for getaways and ambushes.
To date a total of 554 sites have been found in the UK and Northern Ireland, 475 by one individual. A focused and widespread search would undoubtedly uncover a great deal more. The project is ongoing.
The book, Gunfire Graffiti – Overlooked Gun Crime in the UK was published by Waterside Press in 2012. The preface was written by Nick Ross of BBC “Crimewatch” fame. This publication finally came about as a result of the ballistic research carried out in Oxfordshire by Cranfield University.
Andy Rigsby, 2018.