Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Submission from the Police Superintendents' Association, Cheshire Branch

  I refer to the above subject and can inform you that a comprehensive reply is being prepared for submission to the Police Superintendents' Association. This reply is being prepared by a member of the ACPO Firearms Sub Committee Group, of which I am a member. This committee is chaired by Assistant Commissioner James Hart, City of London Police.

  I have however prepared a number of bullet points under the three headings.

Air Weapons

  Within the Cheshire Constabulary area, during 1998, there was a total of 66 air weapon related offences committed, these are broken down into the various categories of offences (see attached paper[13]).

  I would suggest in the interest of public safety that stricter control should be introduced into the possession and use of air weapons with a lower age limit of 18 years for possession and use (unless supervised by an adult over 21 years). This would be in line with other European Community States.

  A standard for testing of air weapons should be introduced to provide consistent results of kinetic energy and should also ensure a standard power limitation. This test should be made by all manufacturers of air weapons to ensure that they do not exceed the limits.

  Recently in Cheshire there was a case of a shotgun certificate holder using his air rifle within the boundary of his garden. The shots were reported to the police and the weapon seized. The air rifle was sent for forensic tests to establish if the weapon was an air rifle or if it fell into the Section 1 category. The tests proved that it was over the 12ft lb limit and was therefore a Section 1 firearm. Enquiries were then made with the Registered Firearms Dealer where the air rifle was bought. The weapon was purchased from a Manufacturer in Hull as an air rifle under 12 ft lbs. Enquiries were made and it would appear that the Manufacturer does not make any tests when he buys the air weapons from abroad. These weapons are then sold on to Registered Firearms Dealers.


  The attached figures[14] show the use of shotguns (including rifles and handguns) in crime within the Cheshire Constabulary area. As can be seen a total of two incidents for 1998.

  There still exists an anomaly in the current licensing of shotguns and firearms. This two-tier system should be addressed to bring shotgun licensing in line with firearms licensing. It is a farce that the criteria to obtain a firearm and its continued use is so rigorous and closely monitored and yet not the case to obtain and use a shotgun. A shotgun can kill the same as a firearm.


  The Firearms Amendment Act 1997 successfully removed handguns from circulation. As with any legislation there are exceptions to this such as historical handguns, vets using pistols for humane destruction etc.

  The disposal of the weapons has, in the main, been achieved smoothly and effectively, the problems arise when the applicant is in dispute with the Home Office over values etc. The police then must retain these weapons and accessories until the claim is resolved.

  The ban in 1997 of handguns has not made a significant decrease in the amount of firearm certificate holders in the Cheshire Constabulary area. In December 1996 there were 2,745 compared with December 1998 2,695. It would appear that the shooting fraternity have made a move into other areas of shooting, these include rifle, carbine rifle, muzzle loading pistol/revolver to name but a few. Some of these are new and not so new.

  As with any industry there are changes and new designs of firearms being manufactured and brought onto the market place, for instance long barrelled pistols. These raise doubts from a licensing aspect and could be viewed as trying to circumvent the law. This situation must obviously be closely monitored and the work being carried out by the ACPO Firearms Sub Committee Group certainly gives guidance and clarity to Chief Officers on such issues. This committee also can put forward any recommendations to the Home Office for changes in primary legislation.

S Deighton

Force Firearms Licensing Manager

13 September 1999

13   Not printed. Back

14   Not printed. Back

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