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.