Police call on rap stars to help prevent gun crime

The senior detective investigating the murder of Toni-Ann Byfield, the seven-year-old girl shot in the back, yesterday told Britain's black music artists to warn their fans to stay away from guns.

At a summit with senior music industry figures, including Mercury Music Prize winner Dizzee Rascal and members of So Solid Crew, Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles, head of Operation Trident which investigates black-on-black gun crime, said it would help stop the shootings if rap musicians, DJs and producers spoke out against Britain's escalating gun culture.

Trident officers are under pressure to increase their efforts to combat gun crime following the murder of Toni-Ann in north London, who was killed as she tried to escape the gunman who had already shot her father, Bertram. Her killing is seen as a setback for Trident officers following a huge improvement in their clear-up rate for black-on-black murders and a levelling-off of shootings.

Mr Coles's comments, at the Urban Music Seminar in London, are expected to reignite the debate over the part rap songs play in glamorising guns.