23/08/2007

Two Arrested Over Schoolboy's Murder

Two teenage boys have been arrested in connection with the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Merseyside on Wednesday night.

Police are currently interviewing the teenagers, aged 18 and 14, both from the Croxteth area.

Rhys was shot in the Fir Tree pub car park on Wednesday evening as he played football with his friends. He was taken to hospital but died later that night.

On Thursday afternoon, it was reported that police were expecting to make more arrests either later in the day or during the week.

Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: "This is a sickening incident and our thoughts are with the family of the victim and I want to appeal to the local community to come forward.

"In the past we have often come up against a wall of silence but enough is enough and the shooting of an 11-year-old boy demands that the community should come together. No parent should have to suffer what the parents of this child are going through tonight and I would appeal to any parents, children or other members of the community who can help us to find those responsible to ring us immediately."

Commenting on the murder, Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as a "heinous crime" which had "shocked the whole nation."

Mr Brown also pledged that the government would carry out "intensive work" to deal with the increasing problem of teenage crime and gang culture.

Speaking to reporters in Downing Street, the Prime Minister said that tougher enforcement of existing laws and the passing of new laws, if required, were high on the government's agenda, following a spate of recent stabbings and shootings involving young people.

On Thursday morning, Mr Brown hosted a seminar on youth crime with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and representatives from the police, government and voluntary agencies. Authorities plan to target ten areas around the country with measures including an alcohol crackdown and early intervention to deter young people from "gangs and guns and knife crime," he said.

The Prime Minister said: "Since Jacqui Smith and I took over the responsibilities that we have, we have been working urgently to examine what more we can do to heal the problems of guns, of knives, of gangs in our country, and more generally, the problem of youth disorder.

"Where there is a need for new laws, we will pass them, where there is a need for tougher enforcement we will make sure that that happens."

(KMcA/SP)

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