Gun crime in Essex has risen by an alarming rate and tougher sentences are needed, according to a victims’ charity group.

The head of Essex Police, Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle, revealed the latest figures which show incidents up by a third.

Between April and June this year there were 48 crimes involving guns, more than in any three-month period in recent history and up from 32 during the same period last year.

33 of these involved air or ball bearing guns. There were ten handgun incidents and five involving a shotgun.

Ann Oakes-Odger MBE, who set up and victims' advocates after her son Westley was stabbed to death at a cashpoint in Greenstead, Colchester, in 2005 has spoken out.

She said: “That is alarming.

“We must ensure robust sentences for being found with a gun are imposed."