Source AP ©

Premier Brown promises action on gun crime

Police will probably get more power to combat gun crime, including expanded use of video cameras in problem areas, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday.

At his monthly news conference, Brown again declined to squash speculation about an early national election, saying it was not the time to talk about the issue.

Gun crime moved up the political agenda following the killing of Rhys Jones, 11, in Liverpool last month.

"Quietly and behind the scenes what we are identifying is those communities where ... there is a large supply of guns; and then we've got to look at how we can control and prevent the supply of guns to these communities," Brown said.

Brown said the government was looking at greater powers for police "to intercept guns, to patrol these areas, to have intensive police where that is necessary, to stop and search, to have video cameras in place perhaps to a great degree than has happened in these particular areas."

Pledging to tackle the issue "in a calm and orderly way," Brown said action would be concentrated on problem areas but he did not identify any.

Brown also addressed the issue of Iran, saying he hoped that diplomacy would be effective in restraining Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, but that he would support a third U.N. resolution imposing further sanctions if necessary.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported "significant" cooperation from Iran and noted that it had slowed uranium enrichment - assessments that could hamper U.S. hopes for new U.N. sanctions.

U.S. and French officials said that enrichment needed to be stopped.

"It is still my belief that the process we have started, which could of course lead to a third United Nations resolution, is the right process," Brown said.

"There is evidence that it has been working in the flow of information to the energy authorities. We will continue to work for that process to be the major means by which we prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"And whatever the individual reports are, I think we should focus on how the process can continue to move forward. But if necessary we will support a third United Nations resolution on this matter."

The Labour Party's recent poll leads have stirred speculation about a snap ballot, but Brown rebuffed questions about his intentions.

"I'm getting on with the business of governing. I said yesterday, and I repeat, there is a time and a place to discuss elections. This is not the time."

In the past weeks, a series of polls said Brown was ahead of his chief rival in the opposition Conservative party, sparking rumors the British leader was poised to call a national election to capitalize on his popularity.

But the latest survey, published in the Times of London on Tuesday, said Brown's lead was slipping - putting his Labour party only 1 percentage point ahead of the Conservatives - 37 percent to 36 percent.

Polling agency Populus interviewed 1,506 adults by telephone between Aug. 31 and Sep. 2, and the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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