Shooting guide issued to all UK police forces.
Following a number of incidents involving lawful shooters being wrongfully arrested, police forces are to be sent a newly updated BASC guide to help them identify people taking part in lawful shooting.
The six-page booklet, The Police Officer?s Guide to Shooters, is designed to help prevent misunderstandings and reduce interventions by the police.
The publication will provide police officers with a guide to the various different aspects of shooting and lists the equipment that people involved in shooting may have with them in different circumstances.
Printed copies will be distributed to every police force in England, Wales and Scotland.
Mike Eveleigh, senior firearms officer at BASC, said: ?We want to avoid any potential confrontation between armed police officers and lawful shooters, and our guide is designed to reduce this risk.?
Mr Eveleigh added the guide should also prove helpful to frontline communications staff in police forces as it provides information they can use if a member of the public contacts them to report having seen a person with a gun: ?The guide contains a quick reference to the type of shooting carried out in the UK, a sort of spotter?s guide for police officers, giving them a brief description of the clothing, equipment and behaviour of shooters, as well as where and when they might be found.?
In October 2009, Graham Simmonds was arrested despite notifying police in advance he was intending to carry out a legal pigeon cull with an airgun at a shopping centre in Havant, Hampshire, during the early hours of the morning.
He said he is now concerned whenever he has to carry out legal pest control in public places: ?I still hear of incidents of shooters being wrongfully arrested. Sending out this updated guide at this time is welcome news. The overreaction by the police is based on misunderstanding, so this guide should go some way to help clarify the role of legitimate shooters.?
Regional police officers have also praised BASC?s initiative.
North Yorkshire police?s wildlife crime officer, PC Mark Rasbeary, commented: ?Any official guidance that will assist police officers to carry out their duties in a legal, appropriate, necessary and proportionate manner is worthwhile. For public and police officer safety all reports relating to firearms have to be taken seriously and officers do need to assess the risk in a given situation and react appropriately.?
He added that in North Yorkshire, police officers receive a number of training days each year that involve firearms legislation. ?I have worked in a rural area for many years and gamekeepers and land managers have always been of great assistance to me, so I can speak from experience. Partnerships are the best solution and I applaud BASC in the production of this initiative.?
PC Jason Pegden is a wildlife crime officer with Norfolk police.
He said: ?Anything that can assist the police in doing their job is a positive thing. The guide will give some important tips for officers going to a situation in the countryside. It will help officers, especially those who have had no prior experience of working in the countryside, to identify what type of people use guns for completely legitimate reasons.?