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New firearms licensing guidelines to consider domestic abuse

The document forms part of an overhaul of the Home Office guidance to licensing departments, started in 2012.

The guidance states: “When considering applications for the grant or renewal of firearm/shotgun certificates particular attention should be paid to domestic incidents, specifically violence and patterns of behaviour by the applicant that give cause for concern.”

“An incident of domestic violence taking place should trigger a need for police to review whether the certificate holder can be permitted to possess the firearm or shotgun without causing a danger to public safety or to the peace.”

Fieldsports organisations have welcomed the new guidance, and both BASC and the Countryside Alliance are continuing to work with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Home Office on the further revisions of the guidance.

A spokesman for BASC told Shooting Times: “BASC welcomes the guidance as violence and firearms, particularly in a domestic setting, should never mix. The guidance will also aid consistency across police forces, which has long been a problem for BASC members, who often find the quality of the service to be a lottery when moving between forces.”

“Whether the certificate holder has been convicted of an offence or not, there has always been a system for such checks by the licensing departments. The guidance codifies this.”

The Countryside Alliance also welcomed the move. Adrian Blackmore, director of the Countryside Alliance Shooting Campaign commented: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes the new Home Office Guidance on domestic violence which advises chief officers of police on the circumstances under which they can use intelligence and information to refuse or revoke a firearm certificate.”

“The process of revising Home Office guidance is still ongoing.”

“The Countryside Alliance continues to work closely with ACPO and the Home Office to ensure the law-abiding shooting community continues to have a voice and is not unfairly affected by any changes.”

“The shooting community supports the strengthening of the guidance in respect of domestic violence, and particularly welcomes the Home Office advice that decisions should be based on evidence rather than hearsay. This is a vital factor.”

Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, told Shooting Times: “The updated Home Office guidance to police on domestic violence is welcome. Obviously violent households are no place for firearms. They never have been.”

“The new guidance spells out best practice — which is already in place in most forces — and makes it clear to police forces that evidence that has been tested in court is to be preferred to hearsay, which has always been the case. It should promote consistency across forces and assist those forces that fall short of the required standards to improve.”

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