LONDON (AP) -- In a country where most police are armed with little more than batons and the closest many people get to crime is a TV drama, criminals with guns have been seen as the kind of problem that afflicts other nations.
But a surge of murders, robberies and assaults involving guns in London, including the mugging of a teen-age girl who was shot in the head for a mobile phone, has shaken Britain's traditional attitude that guns are other peoples' problems.
According to figures released by the London police, muggings involving a firearm have risen by 53 percent, from 435 during the six months ending November 2000 to 667 during the same period last year.
The number of murders with a gun in London jumped by 90 percent during the same time, from 16 to 30. That's a far cry from the 640 murders -- many gun-related -- in New York alone last year, but that figure is way down from the peak of 2,262 in 1992.
Street crime in Britain's capital has also skyrocketed.
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