Shooters this week voiced concerns that when the new National Firearms Licence Management System (NFLMS) is hooked into the Police National Computer, legitimate gun owners will be treated in the same way as criminals on databases designed to hold records of convictions.

Serious concerns were expressed last week in ST that shotgun and firearms holders are having renewals of their certificates delayed by as long as three months because of hold-ups regarding the introduction of the national database, which holds records on legitimate firearms and shotgun holders in England and Wales. Now concerns over the pending link-up of the NFLMS with the Police National Computer (PNC) are set to raise new worries about a system that was first proposed a decade ago.

The PNC holds records on all convicted criminals in the UK, with each allocated a PNC number, which is flagged up to indicate a conviction when the police run a record check. Worries have arisen that law-abiding shooters will be issued a similar PNC number, which, when checked, could lead police to presume a criminal conviction, rather than that the person being checked is a legitimate holder of firearms.

The police have acted to reassure shooting groups that their concerns are unfounded, however. Mike Wells, of the Sportsman?s Association, met with the Metropolitan Police recently and raised the issue. He told ST: ?I brought the problem up in the meeting and, according to them, when the PNC and the NFLMS are connected, registered firearms dealers, firearm certificate holders and shotgun certificate holders will not be lumped together with criminals. They were emphatic that this would not be the case.?