Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Standing Conference on Countryside Sports


  I am Chairman of the Standing Conference on Countryside Sports, which brings together representatives from 86 sporting or allied organisations. Aware of the considerable public concern about the using and handling of firearms, we set up a working party in 1996 to consider the essential role of shotguns and rifles in countryside management.

  I appreciate that the Committee is inquiring into controls over firearms but thought that it would be helpful to give you a summary of our findings. As a basic principle there are many legitimate uses of shotguns and rifles and that ownership of these includes the essential requirement for successful and satisfactory land management.

  The Standing Conference fully supports the legitimate interests of those who need to use shotguns and rifles for countryside management, and also supports those with special interests.

  Shotguns and rifles are needed for:

    —  the economic and conservation interest of game;

    —  the control of game predators which affect the economic base of the countryside;

    —  the control of damage to crops, livestock, forestry and fishing;

    —  the protection of livestock, eg from dog worrying; and

    —  humane purposes where animals may be injured—sometimes as a result of road accidents, alternative land use and diversification, eg clay pigeon shooting.

  The working party also recognised the necessary legal possession of appropriate handguns for use by veterinary surgeons and other certificated persons for humane purposes.

  The Standing Conference is concerned that there may be interference with the legal and necessary use of shotguns and rifles and the effects which this could have on countryside management. Too strict regulation could undermine the economics of the countryside and it would not be desirable to disturb the many legal uses of shotguns and rifles.

  Security is, of course, of vital importance and the onus must rest on individuals to ensure that shotguns and rifles, held for legitimate use, do not fall into the wrong hands. Best practice should be followed at all times and a Code of Practice, similar to those already in use for game rearing and management, should be produced.

  The Standing Conference brings together people from a wide range of backgrounds and experience, with assessors from several Government departments including the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and has access to a great deal of expertise. Conference is attended by representatives of the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the British Shooting Sports Council and entirely supports both organisations' efforts to safeguard the interests of all the organisations in their memberships.


Chairman Standing Conference on Countryside Sports

12 October 1999

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