Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex E

Submission from The Police Superintendents' Association, North Yorkshire Branch


  I refer to Superintendent Pattison's letter dated 5 August 1999, in relation to the above issue.

  Having circulated details for comments the following views have been expressed by members of this force.

Air Weapons

  There is what appears to be a fairly constant level of incidents relating to the misuse of air weapons. Predominantly it is amongst the younger age groups (teenagers) and relates to offences of damage to property and injury/cruelty to animals and birds.

  The popularity of air weapons is growing because they are more carefully designed to appear like Section 1 weapons.

  Air pistols are not seen to have a valid or useful function (not even target shooting) and to avoid them being mistaken for more lethal weapons it has been suggested air pistols should be manufactured in a bright or distinctive colour.

  A view has been expressed that there should be a total ban on imitation firearms.

  To help control the misuse of air weapons consideration should be given to the type and range of penalties relating to existing offences.


  Shotguns users throughout this county are extensive. Incidents probably relate more to the theft of such weapons as opposed to their criminal use. Suicides involving the use of shotguns do happen as do domestic incidents where threats are made regarding the use of such weapons.

  Criminal offences involving shotguns do happen but are proportionately low compared to more urban parts of the country. It has been suggested that to prevent further escalation of the use of shotguns for criminal purposes a mandatory sentence should be introduced for anyone who shortens the barrel of such a weapon or is caught in possession of a shotgun where the barrel has already been shortened. Bearing in mind the only reason shotgun barrels are shortened is to commit crime, it has been suggested the mandatory sentence for committing such an offence should not be less than 10 years.

Other Firearms

  The extent to which the ban on handguns has been effective is difficult to judge. Based on the criminal use of handguns no obvious increase has been noticed and of those that have occurred a proportion will/does involve imitation weapons. Public sightings of persons with handguns frequently turn out to relate to replicas. A means for dealing with such weapons is the obvious next step.

  Some concern has been expressed about current licensing procedures. Renewals now take place every five years, the majority of which are completed automatically by post. This means firearm licence holders may not be seen for 5, 10 or 15 years unless the circumstances re initial registration have altered. Some of the "domestic" type incidents already referred to might be picked up earlier through more direct contact and a greater check regarding security can be maintained.

  I trust these details will be of assistance.

Paul D Gregory

Branch Secretary/Treasurer

17 September 1999

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 13 April 2000