POLICE invited members of the public to sign up to an anti-gun pledge in Selborne Walk shopping centre.

Leading members of the community were at the mall in Walthamstow High Street to lend their support to a London-wide campaign aimed at tackling the increase in gun crime across the capital.

Borough police chief George Clarke, Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard, Leyton MP Harry Cohen, Cllr Barry Smith, cabinet member for community safety, and Lorna Whyte, community safety manager, were there.

Sir John Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was one of the first people to sign the pledge board when it was first used last year during a special conference to discuss ways to reduce and prevent gun crime.

Friday's event was organised by the Waltham Forest SafetyNet Partnership, works closely with other groups in the borough such as the probation service, schools and the police to help tackle the problem.

Residents, particularly young people, were encouraged to sign up and help make firearms less of a menace to society. The idea of signing is to signify a commitment to tackling the problem.

Joz and Candido, two young African students who gave their signatures, said: "People watch American films and see people using guns, and think 'I'm go'nna do that too'.

"People need more opportunities. There are not enough jobs. We've handed in CVs to shops around here and we don't hear anything back."

Mr Cornish, a pensioner from Chatham Road, Walthamstow, said: "The police are not doing enough. There's not a big enough police presence. My wife and I don't feel safe to go out at night any more."

Borough Commander Mr Clarke said: "Gun crime is definitely a feature in this borough. But it's a problem that needs to be addressed by everyone. It takes lives and destroys families."

He said he believed that the growing use of guns was due to a "social shift".

He added: "People need to understand that we are here to help deal with this problem, but police are only a part of the solution."

Mr Cohen said that the new Anti-Social Act would help. The new law gives more powers to the courts to deal with anti-social behaviour, Cllr Smith said there was a reduction strategy in operation to deal with the problems of gun crime. "There has been a rise in gun crime over the years, but the police are now on top of it," he said.