Case study: Calls to Crimestoppers surge following NCA gun crime campaign

Calls to Crimestoppers about illegal guns jumped by nearly one-fifth in the wake of a campaign by the National Crime Agency earlier this year, entitled ‘Know the gun, know the law, know the consequences’.

Materials for the NCA 'Know the consequences' campaign
Materials for the NCA 'Know the consequences' campaign

The NCA launched the campaign in February in response to growing concern about the level of gun crime in the UK. According to the NCA, there has been an upward trend in recorded offences since 2014, with a “fluid supply” of weapons and illegal ammunition “increasingly available”.

The campaign was intended to raise awareness of firearms laws and prevent illegal firearms from entering the country and it targeted people suspected of being involved in illegal firearms possession and use.

Its social media toolkit stated: “Based on threat insight, our key target audience is those aged 16-25, but we also hope to capture the attention of organised crime groups with widespread campaign messaging.”

In a warning to young people about the dangers of illegal firearms and how their lives would suffer if they broke the law, the campaign used targeted online ads on channels including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“You only get one shot in life – don’t blow it,” was a key message used in campaign materials, as well as a call for people to contact Crimestoppers with any information about illegal firearms.

The NCA’s comms team worked with partner organisations, including the British Shooting Association, British embassies abroad and Crimestoppers, to amplify the campaign messages online, increase reports on illegal guns, and raise awareness of firearms entering the country.

Tracy Garcia, strategic comms manager at the NCA, said: “Our firearms prevention campaign was a first for the agency and we consciously took on a partnership approach to ensure we effectively reached our audiences and increased reports into the Crimestoppers helpline.”

Campaign achievements

The campaign resulted in a surge in reports relating to illegal firearms, with calls to the Crimestoppers helpline increasing by 18 per cent in the eight weeks after the launch. In addition, it reached three million people online through social media channels.

Tom Esslemont, head of comms at the NCA, added: “We hope that, as well as continuing to ensure people report illegal weapons entering the UK, this work raises awareness more generally about such an important national security threat.”

The campaign was part of a “pursuit against firearms criminality”, according to Matt Perfect, senior manager, NCA Firearms Threat Leadership Command. “The campaign demonstrated that with a collaborative and partnership approach across many government and private sectors, we can reap huge rewards,” he said.

“The increase in public reporting provides real opportunity to remove some of the most dangerous criminals from our streets, protect our communities and save lives.”

Click here to subscribe to the FREE public sector bulletin to receive dedicated public sector news, features and comment straight to your inbox.

Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.

To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the public sector bulletin, email

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in