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Churches rally after shooting

NOTTINGHAM is not a gun city, and people do not walk around in fear, the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Lenton, the Revd Martin Kirkbride, said after the shooting of WPC Rachael Bown.

WPC Bown, who is 23 and a probationary constable, was shot in the stomach just before midnight on Monday, when she and a male colleague were investigating a burglary in the predominantly student area of Lenton, on the edge of the city centre. On Wednesday, she had recovered consciousness after emergency surgery at the Queen's Medical Centre near by.

Mr Kirkbride's vicarage is 100 yards from the place on Lenton Boulevard where the shooting took place, and WPC Bown, who had recently been transferred to Nottingham, was known to him by sight. "The police have always been appreciated in Lenton. Our local station does an excellent job, with great professionalism and friendliness, and a high profile, face to face with ordinary people," he said on Wednesday. "That's why people feel particularly shocked about this."

The church took the practical step of organising refreshments for the people around the huge cordon being maintained by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Flowers were also sent to officers at the police station, and Mr Kirkbride spent most of Tuesday on the streets talking to people. "Everyone's trying to have a sense of realism that this is not a dangerous place," he said.

"It has become a very loud area, but it's not aggressive, and it's got a great buzz to it. Both the students and the Students' Union have worked very hard over the last two years at integrating into the local community."

He described residents as anxious, but not frightened by what had happened: "This was a common crime, which has escalated into this awful incident. Four years ago, gun crime was running at 77 incidents a year. Last year, it was down to 11."

Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal churches in the area issued a joint statement on Tuesday expressing concern and offering prayers for PC Bown. They reaffirmed the churches' commitment to working together to keep Lenton a peaceful area.

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