Offensive Weapons Bill

WRITTEN SUBMISSION - FURTHER SUBMISSION – OFFENSIVE WEAPONS BILL – MR M D JENVEY (OWB82A)

I have already submitted written evidence [1] at OWB82 relating to the firearms related clauses.

My Internal Review (submitted 13 Jun 2018) was answered 08 Aug (PLEASE SEE ANNEX A)

I believe that there is still significant obstruction / evasion of the responsibilities under FoI.

The Home Office respondent referred in their Internal Review response to the  "Serious Violence Bill"  - this is incorrect, it is the Offensive Weapons Bill.  What else have they got wrong??

I see Groothuis's involvement as political rather than actively contained within what seems to be his "anti-terrorist" role. He also seems to have moved career position several times in a relatively short timescale.

I have received anecdotal information that Groothuis was "very upset" that the Home Office gave approval for Section 5 sports pistols to be used at an international event (Island Games, held Isle of Wight, UK, 2011). I have asked the contact to make a separate submission if possible , as this would seem to show further motivation of Groothuis to be strongly against sporting firearms. However, due to the passage of time & change of key committee members, a separate submission may not be feasible . Moreover, I have further anecdotal evidence that Groothuis was the driving force behind at attempted ban of 0.5" calibre rifles in 2004; this was strongly defended by the British Association of Shooting & Conservation) & nothing further occurred. I understand that separate detrimental submission(s) will point further at Groothuis’ background / motivation.

He has already given evidence [2] to the Public Bill Committee that is reviewing the Offensive Weapons Bill.  As such, this has to stem from a desire to see his choice of prohibition enshrined in legislation.  Disclosure of emails cannot be claimed as exempt as he is clearly discussing methodology / ways & means of lookin g at the specific firearms ban; this is not linked to any related exception under law enforcement - which of course is intended to stop disclosure of forthcoming operations, security provisions, etc.

The timescale for the Public Bill Committee is to sit next on 04 Sep 2018 & to cease taking evidence by 13 Sep (& this could be curtailed sooner).  Consequently, the Home Office delaying ta ctics will probably prevail , as a complaint to the ICO (sent 09 Aug 2019 ) will not be settled in good time ; I have requested expedited processing , confirmed by ICO 17 Aug, but if a resolution notice has to be issued, this will not be settled until Oct / Nov 2018 . Perhaps the Committee can demand such info rmation (Groothuis email chain ) as matter of urgency?

In particular, the response(s) only provided ONE link to ONE set of FELWG minutes ; ALL minutes were requested .  As Graham Widdecombe, Head of Firearms sits on the FELWG, copies of all minutes should not have be en an insurmountable problem. I do not believe that copies of minutes are not so available from the Home Office.   Why should this easily sourced material be withheld? What content could be used in counter-arguments against the Home Office? Perhaps there are damaging comments – see below. Even worse, it was suggest ed that I should ask ( under FoI ) another departm ent (NPCC) for this information; as per Schedule 1 of FOIA [3] , NPCC are not on the master list of public bodies subject to FoI, so this could be a complete waste of time . On 08 Aug 2018, I submitted an FoI to NPCC ( PLEASE SEE ANNEX B ) , with their initial reply confirming non-FoI status (further details later in this submission) .  I'm afraid I really see this as a "Yes Minister" moment at be st, delaying & penalising tactics at worst, especially considering the very tight timescale for submission s to the Pu blic Bill Committee. It should be noted that it is some 11 months since my original FoI questions.

From one set of FELWG minutes [4] found on-line:

Quote, from Graham Widdecombe, Home Office Head of Firea r ms:

"Updates in relation to .50 cal / MARS rifle – HO have had scores of FOI’s in relation to this – another one for Ministers to preside over."  

I see that as very significant - evasive at best & hiding the issue at worst - a n extremely disdainful & dismissive approach. Why should this be shifted upwards to Ministers? Why would the Head of Firearms not want to provide answers? Perhaps the numbers of FoI requests show how badly the Home Office has got things wrong? I have sent in (16 Aug 2018) a separate FoI (PLEASE SEE ANNEX C ) .

With regard to Mark Groothuis's linked emails, the Home Office has not provided any evidence that these would be exempt under FoI Section 31(3), i.e. referencing to Section 31(1) [5] .  This is blanket avoidance for the purposes of not providing requested information; Section 31 (1) (a) is not relevant (no crimes committed with the firearms in question, also not relevant for Section 31 (1)(b). None of the other clauses [Section 31(1)"c" to "i"] are relevant. The Committee should seek out such emails as a matter of urgency.

There has been at least one other FoI that I can find [6] where there was similar evasion based on blanket use of FoI Section 31(3) as a means to avoid answering questions.

Crime statistics [7] - licensed firearms used in homicides -

Quote:

" There were 26 homicides involving a firearm in the year ending March 2016, and in only 1 of these cases was the firearm known to be licensed. In 18 homicides the firearm was not licensed, and in the remaining 7 homicides it was not known if the firearm was licensed or not."

That is a very small number from an equally small sample.  If any weighting is to be given, then it shows that non-licensed firearms are the problem. As previously outlined in my original submission, handguns (banned in general principle & therefore non-licensed ) are the preferred type of firearm used in crime. All Home Office statistics back this up; nothing has been shown relating to 0.5" / MARS rifles.

From a separate FELWG meeting : [8]

"Steyr LP50 pistol; MP has examined, and he has determined it is not a self-loading pistol as it indexes rather than loads; aside, on a pragmatic basis, this weapon is not used in crime, and is therefore not a threat – MP suggests this agenda item be closed. CLOSED"

On a "pragmatic basis," as the weapon was " not used in crime, " it was declared NO threat [Background note – this was being considered as a " self-loading short firearm , i.e. Section 5 / Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 . [9] ] How strange that such a pragmatic basis can be used for an easily concealed (air) pistol firearm (weapon is the wrong emphasis) but does not extend the pragmatic "NO threat" basis to a 0.5" calibre rifle or MARS action rifle? These types of firearm have also never been used in crime. It is the same principle. C onsider c oncealment / criminal use of a pistol versus concealment / criminal use of a 13+ kg rifle with a length of at least 1.2m? I rrespective of FAC aspects, i t is a very hypocritical approach.

Nick Hurd MP (Minister of S t ate of Police & Fire Service) responded to my MP’s original letter (PLEASE SEE ANNEX D); none of the original questions were answered. Why not? A mention is made of "threat assessment;" what are the details? Where did it originate? Groothuis? Furthermore, the statement " ….. the vast majority of people in lawful possession of firearms use them responsibly……" lead s to the question, on what statistical basis is that statement made? There is nothing to support this statement; why would the Minister say this? Scaremongering? My MP’s office sent a second hastener on / around 30 Aug. There can be no excuse for such tardiness / evasion as the factual information requested has to have been considered for the Bill.

It is necessary to point out to a dangerously invalid statement from one of the Committee sittings [10] namely "a senior firearms and explosives officer with the National Crime Agency, and I work in the national firearms threat centre and the expert evidence group."

Christopher Lynn: The MOD has a requirement out to 1,800 metres and 2,000 metres, but the .50 Browning round-the prohibition would not deal only with that cartridge-is effective out to 6,800 metres, according to MOD data. That is 6.8 km, which is an enormous range.

This is incorrect – what other presented "expert" evidence is wrong? A .50 round has an effective range , at best, of approximately 1830m / 2000 yds. Certainly, if fired at an angle of say 40 -45 degrees, a .50 bullet will travel a much greater distance, but NOT as an effective (aimed) firearm system. There are other reasons why this is also a potential limitation, based on expertise of the firer, quality of the ammunition, telescopic sight visibility / accuracy, & also for visibility by a spotting team member of fall of shot to correct any sighting inaccuracies / wind adjustment, etc. The fi gure of 6.8 km is blatantly wrong & has to be considered as scaremongering . There are very isolated reports of long-distance sniper successes [11] ( 3450m seems to be the "world record" – but with a claimed rifle effective range of 1800m) but these are all based on excellent skill-set, advanced military training & optimal use of equipment / supporting resources & logistics. F urthermore, the reports are gen erally open-source so do not reveal any operational limitations, such as number of required sighting / spotted shots in order to successfully engage a target ; I am aware that for one very recent long-distance success, there were multiple "get on target" shots initially . To suggest that an untrained person could use such a rifle for criminal "sniping" purposes is totally preposterous; there is zero risk of a terrorist "Day of the Jackal" event. The threat (or rather lack of) has not been c learly thought out at all; if anything, it has been markedly exaggerated without any information / evidence to support it. To reiterate, the expert evidence was factually incorrect.

As published 20 Aug 2018, " Offensive Weapons Bill 2018: overarching documents " [12] adds to the growing list of information that seems to depict a strong anti-gun approach. In particular, in the Impact Assessment document, the costs show £4M business loss & another £6M for compensation / loss of revenue. This is a staggering amount for a risk that has still not been broken down or outlined , & for value of firearms to be surrendered, assumes exceptional low (33-50%) or less or market value . Furthermore, the continued comparison with the Las Vegas killings is totally inappropriate based on the type of firearms utilised , which are already i llegal in the UK [ & have been since the Firearms (Amendments) Act 1988] ; why is this intransigent slant still applied?

If this comparison is us ed, then the relevant contrast of (poor) gun control legislation in the USA has to be stressed, as should the number of mass killing in the USA compared to the UK. The average in the USA [13] wo uld seem to be one incident every 9 out of 10 days , from the quoted article, 1624 in 1870 days (just over 5 years) = 320+ per year . For the UK, there have been 3 such mass killings since 1987; 2 of them resulted in significant legislative changes. There cannot possibly be a more inappropriate use of USA events to sway our firearms legislation, this smacks of pure desperation / slanted evidence.

Considering one other aspect of the Bill (without any exploration of the associated clauses), the risk of encountering knife crime is rocketing [14] with an annual rise of 16% (40,000+ assaults, the highest since Mar 2011) & linked figures show a 14% increase of NHS admissions based on "sharp implement" assaults. There were a total of 640 attempted murders / homicides. There are no associated costs that I can see in the Impact Assessment (20 Aug) that cover existing NHS costs, Police time, CPS, court involvement, depende nts, victim compensation, etc , for knife crime . These costs have to be massive & are on going , contrary to the un-published risk assessment for the firearm categories in question. The priorities are completely wrong; we must fix a huge social issue rather than focus on a problem that is not there, nor likely to be.

NPPC FoI – information received 28 Aug ( PLEASE SEE ANNEX E) ; it is very worrying that the Home Office (with Head of Firearms in attendance on the FELWG) could not / would not provide the relevant minutes, yet it was possible via NPCC [15] . However, 2 sets of minutes for 2018 have not yet been published, consequently these were stated as exempt under FoI Section 22. The first FELW G meeting for 2018 was listed to take place on 30 Jan 2018; I cannot believe that after nearly 7 months that these minutes have not been published. The timescale relating to the original Consultation & now, the passage of the Offensive Weapons Bill seems more than coincidental. I contacted both NPCC Central Office & staff officer for ACC Durham Constabulary (Chair of FELWG) to seek further information; subsequently NPCC were able to published the minutes for the meeting s in both Jan & May 2018 [16] - yet these were unavailable via the Home Office?

NOTICES OF AMENDMENTS given up to and including Thursday 30 August 2018

NC7 To move the following Clause- "Prohibition of air weapons on private land for those under the age of 18

Numerous teenagers, often from the age of 12 or younger, have started an interest in target shooting by using air rifles or pistols in a safe & controlled environment on "private land" such as a garage / garden at home. Many have gone on to achieve a high standard in target shooting, up to & including national representation. There is no logical reason or associated risk for this ill-considered amendment.

NC19 To move the following Clause- "Controls on miniature rifles and ammunition

This is a pointless exercise, as the existing legislation / associated Police checks / FAC variations already cover this aspect. This amendment shows a complete lack of understanding of the current legislation / processes. Directly, this would also affect existing rifle clubs who use such miniature rifles.

NC22 To move the following Clause- "Possession of component parts of ammunition with intent to manufacture

I note that the Act quoted does not exist [do they mean the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, or the Firearms Act 1968] & the numbering used does not match associated sequencing within the Act(s). There are already numerous persons, who hand-load their own ammunition, across a wide range of different firearm types. This is to save on costs & also to maximise accuracy for target shooting. Separate component parts [with the exemption of primer caps, covered already under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 35 (1) [17] ] can be purchased by such persons from different sources, based on availability or technical requirements. The required characteristics of commercially available ammunition may not match the accuracy need for target shooting, or the cost of such commercial ammunition can be prohibitively expensive, especially for non-standard calibres / firearms.

Again, this amendments fails to show any knowledge / understanding of current target shooting.

Numerous amendments, from the same 3 MPs (Karin Smyth, Louise Haigh, Vicky Foxcroft) show a lack of comprehension of existing legislation, & a negative focus against the target shooting fraternity. It seems to be a petty, "jump on the band wagon" approach in order to legislate further against a law-abiding group.

In summary, t he overall approach from the Home Office has to be seen as continually evasive, with no valid substance to any of the relevant firearms-related clauses . M oreover, there is total lack of evidence or presentation of tangible threat / risk-based assessments . In particular, the seemingly very casual / disrespectful approach of Home Office Head of Firearms to wards FoIs has to be very worrying.

The firearms-based sections (28-35) in the Bill should be removed in total.

ANNEX A TO SUBMISSION

MR M D JENVEY

Date 8th August 2018

Freedom of Information requests – 45786 and 45792

Dear Mr Jenvey

Thank you for your e-mail of 13th June 2018, in which you ask for an internal review into the handling of your Freedom of Information (FOI) requests reference 45786 and 45792.

Your request 45786 asked for information on Government policy concerning firearms and request 45792 asked for copies of all emails between the Home Office and Mark Groothuis.

Your request for an internal review is set out in full in Annex A. It has been treated as a request for an internal review to look into the handling of both cases. The text of your original requests is at Annex B. The original response, which covered both your requests, is at Annex C. We apologise for the error in quoting receipt of your second request as being 16th November 2017 when should have been 16th October 2017. I also apologise for the delay in responding to your request. The Home Office aims to reply to requests for an internal review within 20 days, or exceptionally 40 days for complex cases. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

I have now completed the review. I have examined all the relevant papers and have consulted the policy unit which provided the original response. I have considered whether the correct procedures were followed and can confirm that I was not involved in the initial handling of your request. My conclusion is that the Home Office’s original response to your requests was correct. It was appropriate for parts 1, 2 and 3 of your request to be grouped together, to enable the Department to answer your questions in the context of the public consultation on this subject. The public consultation paper sought views from the general public and shooting representative groups on a proposal to prohibit certain rapid firing rifles. I can confirm that no final decision has yet been taken in relation to these rifles.

You may be aware that on 20th June 2018 the Government published its ‘Serious Violence Bill’, which includes proposals to prohibit certain rapid-fire rifles that use the MARS action, and high energy rifles with a muzzle energy of more than 13,600 joules, which would include some .50 calibre rifles. The Bill has still to go through the Parliamentary process. At Second Reading in the House of Commons on 27 June, the Home Secretary gave an undertaking to consider further the points which were raised during the debate about possible alternatives to banning high-powered rifles, such as requiring enhanced security for their storage and use. Ultimately, the decision on whether to introduce a ban on the general possession of these weapon types will be made by Parliament.

In relation to part 4 of your request, it should have been made clear in our original response that part 9 of your request could not be met because Section 21(1) of the FOIA is engaged. Section 21(1) exempts the Home Office from having to provide you with this information, because it is already reasonably accessible to you. If you have any difficulties in accessing this information at the source which I have indicated, please contact me again.

Minutes concerning FELWG (Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group) meetings can be found by following the link below, which has already been

provided in our original response:

http://www.npcc.police.uk/FELWG%20Minutes/FELWG%2021%209%2017.pdf.

Section 21 is an absolute exemption, and does not require a Public Interest Test to be

carried out.

The FELWG meetings are coordinated, and the minutes published, by the National Police

Chiefs Council (NPCC)

You may also wish to consider making an FOI request to the NPCC to obtain all the

information you require, by following the link below:

npcc.foi.request@cru.pnn.police.uk.

With regard to parts 5 and 6, there is nothing that I can usefully add to the points made in the original response.

I can confirm, with reference to parts 7 and 8, that the Home Office does not hold information on whether an offence was committed by a licensed firearm holder or if the firearm was legally held. I should explain that it is not always possible to categorise the type of weapon used in an offence because they are not always fired or recovered.

Similarly, information about the perpetrator may not be available in all cases. The data that

the police are required to send to the Home Office is listed in the Annual Data Requirement. Each year, this list is discussed by the Police Data Requirements Group (PDRG). The membership of PDRG includes Home Office policy officials and statisticians, representatives of the police and the National Police Chiefs’ Council and police systems IT providers. The position is different in relation to homicide data. Homicide data indicating whether a firearm was held legally was included for the first time as part of the ‘Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences’ data set in February last year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish firearms statistics including a breakdown of the weapon used in offences where there has been a fatal injury. This may be accessed (in table 3.07) by following the link below:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/offencesinvolvingtheuseofweaponsdatatables

In relation to your request for copies of all emails between the Home Office and Mark Groothuis, the Home Office’s application of section 31(3) of the Freedom of Information Act is upheld, the reasons for applying the exemption under section 31(3) of the FOI were fully explained in our response of 24 January 2018. This completes the internal review process by the Home Office. If you remain dissatisfied with the response to your FOI requests, you have the right of complaint to the Information Commissioner. The website of the Information Commissioner’s Office at www.ico.org.uk includes information on how to make a complaint.

Yours sincerely

Anne Tomkins

Information Rights Team

Switchboard 020 7035 4848

E-mail FOIRequests@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

ANNEX B TO SUBMISSION

MR M D JENVEY

To whom it may concern,

I cannot locate a complete list of minutes of the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (FELWG) on your website, or elsewhere.

http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/ACPOpublicationsFoI.aspx

Indeed, a search for FELWG does not pull up a single item.

http://www.npcc.police.uk/SearchResults.aspx?NPCC_Search=felwg

Under Freedom of Information, please provide me a copy of all FELWG minutes from 01 Jan 2016 to present day.

Additionally, please link these (& any future minutes) to your website.

Yours sincerely,

Mr M D Jenvey

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NUMBER:   000139/18

 

 

A Freedom of Information request has been received by the NPCC on 08/08/2018.

 

The NPCC is not yet a designated body covered by the terms of the Freedom of Information legislation. Following the dissolution of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), designation under the Freedom of Information Act did not automatically transfer across to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

 

For these reasons it is important that you clearly understand that not being bound by the legislation means that the NPCC cannot apply exemptions to disclosure, engage the fees regulations and there is no recourse from the applicant’s perspective to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

NPCC Acknowledgement:

 

It is the intention of the NPCC to comply with the spirit of the legislation and I hope to be in a position to respond to your within the statutory timescale of 20 working days subject to the provisions of the Act.

 

In the unlikely event that the NPCC is unable to meet the 20 working day deadline, you will be informed as soon as possible and given a revised time-scale for response.

 

Kind regards.


Sherry

 

Sherry Traquair

NPCC Freedom of Information Officer & Decision Maker

 

National Police Freedom of Information & Data Protection Unit (NPFDU)

PO Box 481, Fareham, PO14 9FS

 

http://www.npcc.police.uk/NationalPolicing/NationalPoliceFreedomofInformationandDataProtectio.aspx

 

T     | 02380 478922

M | 077 685 53447

E     npcc.foi.request@cru.pnn.police.uk

W   www.npccc.police.uk

 

NB: Non-work day – Friday

ANNEX C TO SUBMISSION

MR M D JENVEY

To whom it may concern,

From one set of FELWG minutes found on-line:

http://www.npcc.police.uk/.../FELWG%20MINUTES...

Quote, from (Home Office) Head of Firearms, Graham Widdecombe:


"Updates in relation to .50 cal / MARS rifle – HO have had scores of FOI’s in relation to this – another one for Ministers to preside over."  

Under FoI provisions, please:

· provide a detailed explanation of what seems to be a derisive & evasive comment. 

· outline the background / policy of such reasoning.

· outline what is normal procedure & associated departmental responsibilities for actioning FoI requests relating to firearms.

· explain why such FoIs should be presided over by Ministers rather than the Firearms Dept.

· State how many FoI requests have been made in relation to .50 cal / MARS rifles.

· State the average response time for dealing with such FoI requests.

In the same minutes:

MG – Refers to a paper he has written on ensuring accurate descriptions of ammunition on a firearms certificate. 

Under FoI provisions, please provide:

· a copy of the stated paper (author Mark Groothuis).

From FELWG minutes:

http://www.npcc.police.uk/FELWG%20Minutes/FELWG%2021%209%2017.pdf

"MG reminded the group he maintains the register of suicide / homicide by licensed firearm – he has about 4 examples of recent suicides whereby surgeries have refused to cooperate an individual has gone on to kill themselves. ACTION; MG to share data with NB"

Under FoI provisions, please provide:

· a copy of the stated register (author Mark Groothuis)

Yours sincerely,

Mr M D Jenvey


ANNEX D TO SUBMISSION

MR M D JENVEY

For continuity & to save reference to original submission, original letter from Heidi Allen MP:

HEIDI ALLEN MP

SOUTH CAMBRIDGESHIRE

HOUSE OF COMMONS

LONDON SW1A 0AA

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP

Home Secretary

Home Office

2 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 4DF

11th July 2018

Dear Sajid,

I am writing on behalf of a number of constituents with regard to the provisions of the Offensive Weapons Bill relating to firearms. Many of my constituents are engaged in shooting sports. They feel that they are being unfairly targeted by the provisions in the Bill which they believe lack any evidential credibility and will not result in any reduction in firearms crime.

I appreciate that there has previously been a consultation but concerns remain about its effectiveness and the reliability of the information and evidence gathered during the consultation. In particular, my constituents are concerned about the robustness of the evidence which has led to the Home Office proposing to ban a number of firearms which are presently legal and used by the shooting sport community.

Whilst the shooting community are already subject to wide-ranging security and other checks (and they make no complaint about this), the proposals will remove two specific groups of rifles (high muzzle energy and "rapid firing") but there does not appear to have been an adequate explanation provided to the shooting community about why this is considered necessary or what specific objective would be served by the measures.

In particular, I would be grateful if you would respond to the following issues:

1) Please confirm whether you are in a position to publish the evidence on which the Home Office relied in making its assessment that the particular types of firearms should be banned. If you are not in a position to publish that evidence in full, please explain the justification for withholding that information. Concerns have been expressed to me about the lack of transparency, particularly as the National Crime Agency and ACPO were consulted as part of the consultation.

2) Please outline what specific evidence was taken into account by the Home Office in deciding to ban these types of rifles.

3) During the consultation, concerns were expressed by respondents about the (i) methodology, (ii) evidence of causation and (iii) risk assessments undertaken by the Home Office when deciding to proceed with its plans. Please confirm the specific measures used by the Home Office in assessing (i) to (iii).

4) Please advise what assessment has been made by the Home Office about public safety issues and confirm the number of offences recorded in each of the last five years which involved rifles of the types which it is proposed to ban and of those offences, please confirm the number of rifles which were legally held.

5) Please advise what reductions in the level of crime are anticipated as a result of the measures in the Bill regarding firearms.

6) As outlined above, there are stringent regulations and safeguards associated with the obtaining of a firearms certificate. They are clearly considered by the Home Office to provide the best way of ensuring public safety. As a result, please advise why those safeguards are not considered to be sufficient in relation to the rifles which the Bill would ban.

I am grateful for your consideration of these issues on behalf of my constituents.

Yours sincerely

Heidi Allen

MP for South Cambridgeshire

Broadway House, 149-151 St Neots Road, Hardwick, Cambridgeshire CB23 7QJ

Constituency office: 01223 830 037 London office: 0207 219 5091 heidi.allen.mp@parliament.uk

ANNEX E TO SUBMISSION

MR M D JENVEY

c/o PO BOX 481

Fareham

Hampshire

PO14 9FS

Tel: 02380 478922

Email: npcc.foi.request@cru.pnn.police.uk

1st Floor, 10 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NN T 020 7084 8950 F 020 7084 8951

28/08/2018

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NUMBER: 139/18

Thank you for your request for information regarding FELWG Minutes which has now been

considered.

Applicant Question:

I cannot locate a complete list of minutes of the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working

Group (FELWG) on your website, or elsewhere.

http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/ACPOpublicationsFoI.aspx

Indeed, a search for FELWG does not pull up a single item.

http://www.npcc.police.uk/SearchResults.aspx?NPCC_Search=felwg

Under Freedom of Information, please provide me a copy of all FELWG minutes from 01 Jan 2016 to present day.

Additionally, please link these (& any future minutes) to your website.

NPCC Response:

Following the dissolution of the Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO), designation under the

Freedom of Information Act did not automatically transfer across to the National Police Chiefs’

Council (NPCC). The NPCC, as the new coordinating body, should clearly be open to the same level

of scrutiny and transparency as its predecessor and it is anticipated that an Order to bring the NPCC

under the auspices of FOIA will be forthcoming. This is currently the responsibility of the Cabinet

Office and the NPCC is supporting the Cabinet Office in bringing forward the Order.

In the meantime, the NPCC will comply with the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and will

respond to all requests received as if it were still subject to FOIA. Applicants should note, however,

that until the formal designation is in place and the legislation is amended to include the NPCC, the

Internal Review process will remain in place but there is no legal basis to pursue complaints to the

Information Commissioner’s Office.

The NPCC would have responded in the following way:

Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires the NPCC, when refusing to provide

information by way of exemption, to provide you with a notice which: (a) states that fact, (b)

specifies the exemption in question and (c) states why the exemption applies. In accordance with

the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a refusal notice to those aspects of your

request.

I can confirm that the NPCC does hold information captured by your request.

I am not obliged to provide information if the information held is reasonably available to you, or

intended for future publication and engages exemptions S21 and S22 respectively.

Section 21 Information reasonably accessible by other means:

(1) Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant otherwise than under section 1 is

exempt information.

Section 21 is an absolute exemption and I am not required to conduct a public interest test.

Section 22 For future publication:

(1) Information is exempt information if-

(a) The information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or

any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)

In determining the public interest, I have evaluated the impact of releasing the information against

the need for public bodies to exercise their functions. In this case, I have concluded that to release

the information prior to the intended publication by the NPCC Business Support Office, would be

irresponsible on my part.

The exemption is aimed at preserving intact all existing laws providing access to information. The

Freedom of Information Act is not designed to subsume other legal access rights, or to give

alternative routes to access where existing regimes are already available. The Freedom of

Information Act access rights build on, but do not replace, previous access rights. Those existing

rights, and the separate procedural regimes which are tailored to them, continue in place, and the

Freedom of Information Act observes corresponding limits to its role.

Section 22 allows for circumstances when it is reasonable and correct for public authorities to delay

provision of information until it is made generally available through publication.

Section 21 applies to information already published via the following web-link, and Section

22 applies to the latest two sets of minutes which are not yet published:

http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/FirearmandExplosivesLicensingMinutes.aspx

Yours sincerely

Sherry Traquair

Freedom of Information Officer & Decision Maker

www.npcc.police.uk

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Internal Review

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have been provided with, in compliance with the

Freedom of Information legislation, you can lodge a complaint with NPCC to have the decision

reviewed within 20 working days of the date of this response. The handling of your request will be

looked at by someone independent of the original decision, and a fresh response provided.

It would be helpful, if requesting a review, for you to articulate in detail the reasons you are not

satisfied with this reply.

If you would like to request a review, please write or send an email to NPCC Freedom of Information,

c/o PO Box 481, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 9FS.

September 2018


[1] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmpublic/OffensiveWeapons/memo/OWB82.pdf

[2] https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-07-17/debates/3c198834-0e7b-4b06-b6cc-0a5e7958d540/OffensiveWeaponsBill(SecondSitting)

[3] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/schedule/1/enacted

[4] http://www.npcc.police.uk/FELWG%20Minutes/2018/FELWG%20MINUTES%20MERSEYSIDE%20JANUARY%202018%20SANITISED%20FINAL.pdf

[4]

[5] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/section/31

[5]

[6] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/statistics_behind_offensive_weap#incoming-1162509

[6]

[7] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoffences/yearendingmarch2016/homicide

[7]

[8] http://www.npcc.police.uk/FELWG%20Minutes/FELWG%2013%204%2017.pdf

[8]

[9] http://www.guntradenews.com/comment/legal/green-light-for-steyr/

[9]

[10]

[10] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmpublic/OffensiveWeapons/PBC232_Offensive%20Weapons_Combined_1-4_19_07_2018.pdf

[11] http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/40381047/a-canadian-sniper-breaks-the-record-for-the-longest-confirmed-kill-shot---but-how

[12] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offensive-weapons-bill-2018-overarching-documents?utm_source=d1fd0cde-8a07-4096-83c8-fc655bb42978&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

[13] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/oct/02/america-mass-shootings-gun-violence

[14] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2018

[15]

[15] http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/FirearmandExplosivesLicensingMinutes.aspx

[15]

[16] http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/Reportsreviewsandresponsestoconsultations.aspx

[16]

[17] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/38/section/35

[17]

 

Prepared 10th September 2018