Only eight firearms license surrender decisions were overturned following a review of police practices following the mass shooting in Plymouth this summer.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has called on all police forces in England, Wales and Scotland to check gun licensing procedures after 22-year-old Jake Davison killed five people in Keyham on August 12 before turning the gun on him.
As part of the review, forces were specifically urged to re-examine the processes followed in issuing a firearms certificate to ensure that “appropriate” decisions are made in accordance with government directives and laws on the issue. firearms.
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In a ministerial statement written to Parliament today, Police Minister Kit Malthouse said: “As a result of this review of the permits issued, in eight cases the original decision was overturned and the permits were re-issued. or revoked. “
Davison, a crane operator apprentice, had received mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown from a local helpline and his use of social media suggested an obsession with ‘incel’ culture – which means ‘involuntary bachelor’ – as well as an interest in firearms.
Questions remain about how he was authorized to have a firearms license.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating Devon and Cornwall Police’s decision to return Davison’s shotgun certificate and weapon to them.
Last month, the IOPC confirmed that it served disciplinary notices on two people – a police staff member and a police officer – within the force to inform them that their conduct is under investigation.
A police officer had received a misconduct notice for his handling of Davison’s assault incident, which initially saw him withdraw his gun.
In addition, the IOPC confirmed that a member of the police staff, who is said to be linked to the force’s firearms licensing team, also received a notice of gross misconduct regarding Davison’s claim. a shotgun certificate and the decision to return it to him weeks before the Keyham killings
They had been seized in December last year following an assault allegation the previous September, but were returned to him in July.
Responding to Mr Malthouse’s statement about the review, Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: ‘The people of Keyham want answers as to why the killer was returned. gun.I hope the police watchdog investigation will provide some of these answers in due course.
“New Home Office figures today show that the return of a gun in the Keyham incident was far from an isolated example.
“We now know that 14% of requests that are later denied a firearm certificate have their firearm returned.
“It is clear to me that current gun laws need fundamental reform.
“These numbers reinforce my concern about the return of firearms across the country, where the police had an initial motive to refuse or confiscate them.
“The people of Keyham want to make sure that no other community ever goes through what we have, and that means tightening up gun laws.”
According to data provided by the forces set out in the statement, a total of 6,434 firearms and shotgun licenses have been surrendered, seized, revoked or refused in the previous 12 months in England, Wales and Scotland.
Of these, 908 licenses were subsequently returned or issued following further verifications or appeals decided by the courts.
The numbers have not been broken down into areas of strength so at this point it is unclear how many have been decided by Devon and Cornwall Police. Historically, the force has had to monitor the highest rate of gun ownership in the country.
As of May 2006, it was reported that there were 97,670 legally owned hunting rifles and firearms in Devon and Cornwall. In 2014, it was revealed that the force oversaw 9,728 firearms certificates covering 26,838 weapons and 30,653 shotgun certificates covering 67,485 shotguns. At this point, the bill to administer the licensing system in 2013 actually cost Devon and Cornwall Police £ 1.25million – with just £ 446,000 received in fees.
In his statement, Malthouse said the forces confirmed their procedures were “in accordance with Home Office guidelines,” adding: “The findings set out above are reassuring that the police have solid processes in place. to issue and review firearms and shotgun licenses “.
New legal guidelines introduced in the wake of the shooting – which took effect on Monday – mean police must now check someone’s medical history before issuing a firearms license.
The Home Office said all requests for firearms must be accompanied by a medical document signed by a registered practicing doctor.
Any relevant medical records – especially any information on mental health, neurological disorders, and addiction – will need to be reviewed as part of the process.
This means that police, for the first time, will be legally bound to follow guidelines to help improve standards and consistency between UK forces.
Police have also been asked to review an applicant’s social media accounts and financial history, as well as conduct domestic violence checks in cases where officers believe more evidence is needed before authorizing a claim. Licence.
The British Medical Association, which helped develop the guidelines, said it was clear that doctors were responsible for providing medical evidence, but that police forces would make the final decision on whether to issue the license.
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