A FATHER whose son was shot dead in Stretford is getting behind a campaign to crack down on gun crime and get illegal firearms off the streets.

Today marks the beginning of Greater Manchester Police’s firearms action week, aimed at raising awareness of gun crime and encouraging people to come forward with information, anonymously.

The drive is being supported by the father of 20-year-old Halton McCollin, who was shot in the back of the head outside the China Garden takeaway in Chester Road on January 19 2008.

Halton’s killer has never caught and a £50,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman.

Halton McCollin senior, from Bolton, said: “It’s been nine years since Halton was taken away from us but in many ways, it feels like only yesterday.

“I support Greater Manchester Police’s campaign because it could save a life. You should be able to walk into a takeaway or restaurant without fear of losing your life and somebody knows who is carrying out these atrocities.

“We’ll never give up trying to find Halton’s killer and I appeal to anybody who knows anything to come forward so that we can live in peace.”

Officers will be visiting gun clubs and licenced firearms holders this week to talk about gun security and going into schools to speak about the dangers of the weapons.

Posters encouraging the public to talk to Crimestoppers anonymously will also appear on social media, as well as on the big screens on the Mancunian Way.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, from the serious crime division, said: “One call could be all it takes to stop another family going through the pain and heartache that Halton’s loved ones have endured.

“Illegal guns only help gangs and terrorists but with your information, we can prevent them from falling into dangerous hands and causing misery.”

Superintendent Doyle also took the opportunity to issue a fresh appeal for information about Halton’s murder.

“The smallest detail may well be the last piece of the jigsaw. However small or irrelevant, come and tell us about it,” she said.

“You do get changes of allegiance, people who have not come forward and kept quiet. I know there are people out there who know who did it.”

Superintendent Doyle said that although the police were seeing a reduction in firearms crime, the stigma of ‘Gunchester’ – Manchester’s nickname, coined in the 90s with the rise in firearms trade – remains.

“Although we have seen it come down, we are not claiming that it is a success story,” she added. “Even one gun activity is one too many. We now that guns are out there and people are still prepared to use them.”

To pass on information about Halton’s murder or gun crime in general, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You will not have to give your name or details.