Pest conroller arrested by armed police.

A legitimate shooter was wrongfully arrested after police failed to use information about a planned pigeon cull, already logged on their telephone system.

Pest controller, Graham Simmonds, owner of pest control company GS Services, was arrested while culling pigeon at a shopping centre in Havant, in Hampshire, during the early hours of 3 October.

?I was contracted by the shopping centre to cull 30 to 40 pigeon for public health reasons. As a responsible shooter, I had telephoned Hampshire police the night before to inform them that I was carrying out the work and that I would have an air rifle with me.?

After an hour of shooting, three police cars and six armed police officers arrived at the scene.

?The police were completely over the top, shouting and screaming at me. I was arrested for ?being in a public place with a firearm?. Despite trying to explain to the police that I had written permission in my pocket, they refused to listen to me and just kept telling me to be quiet.?

Eventually the police found the letter of permission and Mr Simmonds was released without charge.

?Unbelievably, one of the police officers told me that phoning the night before was pointless. Apparently, I should have phoned that morning, as it was a ?different watch? on a Saturday. They said that it was my fault that this had happened.?

Mr Simmonds added: ?I found the incident very traumatic. I had notified the police to avoid anything like this happening. Where does this leave shooters now if we are told that informing the police is futile? Shooting Times?s campaign is an extremely good, long overdue idea. The police seem to think that anyone with a gun is a killer or a terrorist.?

BASC?s senior firearms officer, Mike Eveleigh, was not surprised by Mr Simmonds? ordeal: ?Sadly, this is an example of failed communication within a police force. We have said for some time that informing the police when you are going shooting is not necessary unless you are in a very sensitive area, for example, doing pest control near a military establishment.?

BASC is currently reworking The Police Officer?s Guide to Shooters leaflet, which will eventually be sent out to every police force in the country.

?Even if you have informed the police that you are shooting, when a member of the public rings to complain about ?a man with a gun?, the police must still turn out to check that report,? said Mr Eveleigh.

Reacting to the incident, a spokesman for Hampshire police said: ?It appears that the information given by Mr Simmonds on the Friday night was not passed on to the officers on duty on the Saturday morning. They were unaware of his reasons for being in the shopping centre with a firearm, so when a member of the public reported seeing an armed man in a public place we had to respond robustly.?

The spokesman added that a member of the Tactical Firearms Support Unit would be happy to meet with Mr Simmonds to explain the police action that was taken.

?It is common practice for people who legally hold firearms and use them in their line of work to notify police of their activities in advance and we will look into the circumstances of this case to establish why this information was not passed on,? he said.

Let us know what you think about this!

  • Brian Hemsley

    We carry out the same operations here in New Zealand, we ring the police the day before, and we receive a visit from them in the night just to see how many we have got, no hassles at all.. We have never received a complaint in the 3years we have been doing it which includes shooting on bridges and hydro dams, I’m so glad I left the UK many years ago I would have given up shooting if I had stayed

  • Norman

    They do not get the information from in their own ranks,and say they will send someone round to explain their actions. Why can’t they apologise unreservedly for their mistake.

    Don’t think we could get away with just explaining why we did not inform them of a sale or purchase of a firearm.

  • justlaw

    He’s arrested, and these Police clowns on youtube, well i don’t need to spell it out.


  • dave waters

    I think Stephen Roberts either works for the police or is police or similar.Must be the only shooter in the british isles to have this sort help from “0ur finest”.
    No,the rest of us are sick of it all….and the ones who are not, have just not had the day they will change their minds forever…yet.

  • Bruce

    It makes my blood boil this, chucking all those resources against people going about their lawful business and having the whatsit scared out of them in the process. I don’t know if it would get anyone anywhere but can cases like this be reported to the IPCC? One or two might not achieve anything but if everyone started complaining it just might make someone sit up and think?

  • darren

    i have herd of a man pigeon shooting with a air gun on private land & having a bunch of crop circle tourists walking across his shoot & destroying the crop after he approached them
    and told them to ****off they phoned the police and told them they were threaten by a men with a gun, he was arrested by armed response and charged with threatening behaver with a firearm
    none of the crop circle tourists were charged with trespassing or damaging the crop, so if this happens to you put your gun in its case and lock it up safe before telling them to ****off, the police don’t care weather you have permission or not the police think you have a gun your a terrorist, (be seen be safe no), don’t be seen don’t get shot

  • Stephen Roberts


    I think Mr Simmonds has been very unfortunate.

    I live in the Durham Constabulary area and have the contract to clear vermin from a playing field area close to a village.
    I contacted Durham police switchboard to inform them of my arrival and explained what I was doing and where I would be.
    When I telephoned to say that i had completed the assignment the operator told me that they had informed all of the forces subdivisions by E-Mail and highlighted the use of firearms.
    Members of the public had contacted the police during my time at the ground and had been informed that I was there in a legal capacity and they were aware of what I was doing.
    I think Durham police should be held up as an example of a force that understands when it needs to act, and when it can hold back.

  • Bex

    I work for a large Pest Control company and i’m sad to say this problem is rather common. We have frequent problems with the Police when it comes to shoots, despite informing them through the necessary channels.
    We had a incident recently in Kent involving two of our technicians. They were tasked with a Rabbit cull in the grounds of a hotel. 30 minutes into the shoot, 20 armed Police complete with helicopter spotlight and police dogs, descend on them. They were not given a chance to explain until they had been taken into custody. The treatment they received was despicable and completely un-called for. As one very shaken up technician pointed out, did the police not stop to think why would these ‘dangerous armed men’ be lying on their bellies in the middle of a field at 5am, with ear muffs on and surrounded by dead rabbits, not too mention the very obviously signed van and uniform?

  • bob

    I can kind of understand what graeme simmonds went thorugh, when i was out lamping on the estate i keepered near glasgow, around 2am we heard the police helicopter and seen blue lights further along the glen, not realising that someone had called police after having seen the light of our lamp and heard a rifle shot, we carried on lamping our land then all of a sudden we were being lamped ourselves by the chopper, luckily for us our local firearms officer was part of the armed response team who turn up and things were dealt with on the spot. We were lucky but i have also heard of others around the country being not so lucky. The amount of money and resources being wasted must be increadable, why dont they first off contact the land owner or local keeper 2ask if they are out lamping or in mr. simmonns case contact the shopping cntr.