?The way I was treated by the police was utterly humilating,? shooter Kenneth Wilson told Shooting Times magazine.

Mr Wilson was targeted by police while he was shooting pigeon on farmland in Wiltshire on 13 July.

?The field in which we had permission to shoot has a 300ft crop circle and is regularly visited by crop circle fanatics. On that particular day, two Norwegian crop circle enthusiasts turned up and started trespassing on the field to catch a glimpse of the circle.?

?The next thing I knew, an armed response unit turned up in a helicopter followed by three police cars and they arrested me after one of the trespassers called the police stating that guns were being used in the field.?

All charges against Mr Wilson were eventually dropped and his seized guns were returned.

?The police dealt with this situation appallingly. It should have been resolved there and then in the field. There is nothing illegal about what I did that day. I have been shooting for more than 30 years and comply with firearms law and all safety practices. Maybe it is time the police set about understanding legitimate shooters? rights.?

Dale Barnard, from Lincolnshire, has also experienced police heavy-handedness.

He said: ?Six months ago, I was shooting pigeon in Humberside. The local firearms officer stopped her car as she passed the field and informed me that it is an offence to shoot within 50ft of the highway. She tried to get me to accept a caution for the incident, but I refused. She then confiscated both of my guns and my shotgun certificate.?

Mr Barnard added the police need to be better informed when it comes to dealing with legitimate shooters: ?Last week, after four months of silence, I received a summons for an offence contrary to section 161 of the 1980 Highways Act. I admit that I was too close to the road, but I was not endangering anyone. My solicitor and I are confident that I have not broken the law as the Act states that someone would have to be injured, interrupted or put in danger on the highway. A simple slap on the wrist would have sufficed. Throughout this whole process, I have been made to feel like a hardened criminal.?

BASC?s head of firearms, Bill Harriman, said it?s the responsibility of the Association of Chief Police Officers to ensure the police are up to speed on fieldsports: ?When dealing with incidents involving the countryside, the police need to be knowledgeable, impartial and even-handed. BASC?s experience is that police officers tend to assume that anyone with a gun in the countryside is in the wrong and BASC is working hard to change this perception.?

In April, BASC refused to endorse a controversial new scheme proposed by Leicestershire police, which asked shooters to notify them every time they go shooting. As a result, BASC is now holding a series of six workshops with the constabulary to help educate officers on fieldsports.

BASC spokesman Dave Harper explained: ?BASC is very aware, given numerous members? direct experiences, that the police do not always understand what sporting shooting is about, which can lead to misunderstandings. In this instance, BASC is working with Leicestershire police, who are keen to be proactive on this issue. BASC will be monitoring how useful these workshops are and may then offer to host them for other police forces in the future.?

The Countryside Alliance?s Jill Grieve concurred with BASC?s sentiments.

She was disappointed to hear of the two incidents and said: ?To hear of hysterical reactions from the police towards those with legally held firearms is particularly unhelpful. We all know that gun ownership is a privilege rather than a right and we all take that seriously, so to see police take a heavy-handed approach is frustrating.?

?Well-briefed officers are a pleasure to deal with. We need to get to the point where all police are familiar with the legislation and do not automatically take a negative approach. Only training and the shooting community?s continued efforts to promote its sport will overcome this,? concluded Ms Grieve.

Responding to the calls, the Association of Chief Police Officers? head of rural affairs, Richard Crompton, said: ?Considering the popularity of shooting in the countryside, complaints of this nature are extremely rare, but I would be more than happy to discuss with BASC any concerns it has.?

SPOKESMAN


Wiltshire Police
I can confirm we were called to a farm near Devizes on 13 July, following a report that a man was discharging a shotgun in close proximity to members of the public. A 62-yearold man was arrested and, following police enquiries, no further action will be taken against him. In situations such as this, public safety is of paramount importance.

Let us know what you think about this!

  • Steven Booth

    Mr Wilson’s was a wrongful arrest as no offences were disclosed and he had every right to be there. He has perfect grounds to sue for wrongful arrest and I sincerely hope that he does so. This might just ring a warning bell or to those officers who think they know the laws they are there to administer. They clearly do not, and I am not just referring to UK gun laws. Police competency is becoming a major issue so if they want the respect they crave for then they need to start training their officers to at least an acceptable standard.

  • Ben Synnock

    “A simple slap on the wrist would have sufficed. ”

    and

    ” She tried to get me to accept a caution for the incident, but I refused”

    what’s a caution if not a slap on the wrist?

  • Rob.

    There is enough Policemen/woman out there that shoot. There`s often reports in shooting mags about how much money has been raised by them or the Wiltshire team of police out shot the Shropshire team in a charity shoot etc,etc.
    Some of them do a lot of pigeon/rough shooting as well.
    Why don`t they ever say anything ?
    Why don`t they get asked to sort it all out ?
    They know both sides of the story.

  • David Roantree

    Surely its a matter of common sense when you are out shooting and the general public are about.I personally would put my gun away I know its inconvenient,but most of the general public are ignorant about countryside ways.
    An experienced shooter should be able to keep the situation under control by using good judgment,otherwise he shouldnt have a licence to shoot.

  • Ed

    Twenty plus years ago I caught a couple of Poachers, one of whom held a loaded shotgun to my head and said “I’d like to blow your f****** head off”. The Police were called who arrested the two, one of him had by that time hidden one of the shotguns, this I shared with the Police at the time.

    My Father, an Attorney, got me to write a Statement detailing exactly what had happened which I detailed specifically the comment made above.

    As far as I am aware the Police declined to prosecute and would not respond to my Father’s inquiries.

    I understand that at least one of the Poachers was from a well known Gypsy Family and had a shotgun certificate….probably still does….given he is in a protected “class”.

  • Terry

    The police should work for the law NOT become the law,most things can be sorted with a couple of phone calls and common sense,lets hope no one else has to be treated like a criminal to enjoy there sport…..

  • Karl

    Some twenty or so years ago the Leicestershire Wildfowlers Association we asked to give a series of lecture classes to Northhamptonshire Police with regard to shooting sports, game rearing etc. I know how well it was received, I gave the gamekeeping lecture. The police were delighted with the course and so were we. It is time for BASC or the CA to step into the breach and organise the same again, for all police forces.

  • Peter Warmington-Gardner

    Dale Barnard wasn’t told the entire truth by the female police firearms officer. The distance of 50ft is measured from the CENTRE of the highway, not, as is implied, the edge.

  • Mike

    Tweedledum – you’re quite right; Leicestershire police FIREARM LICENSING department is one of the best in the UK, but this does not mean to say that the whole of the force is perfect.

    Where things are good we should praise, where they’re not, we should criticise.

  • Elliott b

    The publics saftey was paramount in this situation are the police having a laugh the public were trespassing on land that does not belong to them why are they not arrested and charged

  • Mr C James

    Jill Grieve from the countryside alliance should get her facts right, gun ownership in the Uk is a right not a privilage.

  • AGO

    The big problem of LAW in this country is that … NOT only about shooting, but in other issues, POLICE on the ground/street, DON’T HAVE A CLUE on SO MANY MANY ISSUES …. Not only shooting.

    Someone needs to start accepting these facts and do something about this !!!

    Angel

  • Dave

    They really are a clueless lot.When i think over the years how many times i have been told the firarms law says this or you cant have that.Every time i checked the facts and got what i had originally requested.Is it any wonder half if not more of us just curse them now?.
    If many people who dial 999 got the helicopter treatment when burgled,beaten,knifed,raped….perhaps we would be getting to a better place.Bitter?damn right.

  • Tweedledum

    BASC having to educate Leicestershire Police ? ? But it’s only a few weeks since Mike Eveleigh was praising them as one of the best!

  • morgan

    its s**t how ignorant our police are about the laws governing the land, useless… the only criminals in this story are the trespassers and the cops. both of which should be prosecuted for something.