Submission from The Police Superintendents'
Association, North Yorkshire Branch
HOME OFFICE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ENQUIRYCONTROLS
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.
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
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
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.
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
17 September 1999