Q: Are there any legal guidelines on where to keep the main and spare keys to the gun cabinet? Peter Glenser, firearms barrister and BASC chairman, answers.

A: On Sunday August 10 1997 a police officer called at the house of Mr Mark Farrer. He wanted to inspect his firearms security. Mr Farrer was not at home. His mother, then in her 80s, who did not hold a certificate, fetched the officer the key and allowed him access to the cabinet. The Chief Constable then declined to renew Mr Farrer’s certificate because he had allowed an unauthorised person access to his guns. He appealed. The case reached the Court of Appeal, presided over by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham. The court agreed with the Chief Constable.

Non-certificate owners should not have access to gun cabinet keys

So you may not allow any unauthorised person access to your gun cabinet and that means access to the keys. Specifically you may not tell your non-certificate-holding partner where the keys are. Keep them on you or held in a safe like a keysafe with a fingerprint lock.

BASC’s advice is as follows: “You should ensure you keep the keys to the cabinet in a place where they can’t be found easily. Remember that you are responsible for the security of the guns, and letting people who do not have a certificate (including family members) know where the keys are is not taking reasonable precautions to ensure that they don’t have access to the guns. Criminals are aware of the habit of “hiding” keys in a drawer, so think carefully about the hiding place. It would be sensible to consider changing that hiding place from time to time. Another option is to put the keys into a small combination safe – for which only you have the combination. Another option is a gun safe with a combination lock. Equal care should be taken to prevent anyone else knowing the access codes.”

If you happen to have a safety deposit box or similar arrangement with your bank it might be worth putting the spare set of keys to the safe in there.