A police spokesman explained: “While this may not remove the need for police to attend an incident to ascertain that the people seen with the guns are the people conducting lawful shooting, it may reduce the level of police response considered appropriate to investigate. The intention of this early notification is to remove or minimise the risk of a situation between (armed) police officers and legitimate shooters enjoying their hobby.”
The shooting community has dismissed the idea as unworkable.
A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) said: “There have been occasional incidents when police armed response units have been scrambled following calls from the public, only for them to find a legitimate shooter. However, compared with the amount of legitimate shooting that goes on, illegal incidents are very rare. We do not think a case has been made for every legitimate shooting activity to be subject to voluntary reporting. The NGO was not consulted in advance of this launch and we wonder who else the force has spoken to. In the unlikely event of large numbers of Leicestershire shooters taking it up, the scheme could become a bureaucratic nightmare for the police – probably a much larger task than they currently recognise.”
BASC’s John Swift agreed. He said: “This is a half-baked idea that needs further consideration. The police are well-meaning, but this initiative is simply unworkable. What would happen if someone forgot to report to the police prior to going out shooting? Would that automatically result in marked cars pulling up to investigate? This could turn out to be very counterproductive. It might work in localised areas, but certainly not for whole counties.”