Shotgun and firearm certificate holders have a legal responsibility to ensure that their guns are always kept securely, so as to prevent possession by unauthorised persons. The Countryside Alliance fully supports this responsibility, one which is taken very seriously by the overwhelming majority of shooters. From 15th October the police will be checking that guns are being securely stored, by way of unannounced visits to certificate holders. New Guidance from the Home Office has been published as follows:
“Where it is judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat, or risk of harm, the police may undertake an unannounced home visit to check the security of a certificate holder’s firearms and shotguns. It is not expected that the police will undertake an unannounced home visit at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so on the grounds of crime prevention or public safety concerns and the police judge that this action is both justified and proportionate.
It is recognised that there is no new power of entry for police or police staff when conducting home visits. To mitigate any misunderstanding on the part of the certificate holder the police must provide a clear and reasoned explanation to the certificate holder at the time of the visit.”
It has always been important to ensure your gun security is adequate. You are now urged to double check your security and ensure that it is fully up to standard. Bear in mind that the police receive a wide range of information from varying sources. Even if specific intelligence which prompts them to make a visit does not relate to you, it could relate to persons in your household or close by, or to particular risks in your neighbourhood.
We advise that you co-operate with any reasonable request from the police to check your security. However, it is important to note that the police have been granted no new powers of entry to your premises. If they seek admittance then they must, as the Guidance says, provide a clear and reasoned explanation for wishing to do so.
If you think that the police are acting unreasonably, for example by calling at an unsocial hour without good cause, or by acting in a heavy-handed or disproportionate manner, then you should make clear your concerns, in the first instance to your local police. If you are not satisfied with any reply you receive, then you should report the matter to the Countryside Alliance and, if appropriate, then we will take your case up with senior officials at national level.