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Shooting consultation response targets police

As a key element of the Campaign for Common Sense, the Shooting Times magazine has sent a submission, on behalf of readers and all shooters, to the National Policing Improvement Agency?s consultation on the Code of Practice on Police Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons.

The consultation, which closed on Sunday 1 November, sought input into revisions to the Code of Practice, which governs the way in which chief police officers address procedures, training and good practice relating to authorised police firearms users.

Shooting Times identified this particular consultation as a critical one for the shooting community following several widely reported incidents, notably of law-abiding pigeon shooters being arrested by armed police at gunpoint.

Especially well-known is the case of Wiltshire shooter, Kenneth Wilson, who was arrested by police while pigeon shooting in a cornfield near Swindon in July.

The story of Mr Wilson?s arrest made headlines in the national news, yet no stories subsequently appeared to explain how all charges against him had been dropped and his confiscated guns returned to him.

Many in the shooting world were shocked by a photograph of him being led away in handcuffs by armed officers, one of whom had an innocuous bag of decoys slung over his shoulder.

Shooting Times? acting editor, Alastair Balmain, who prepared the consultation response, commented: ?This has been a central part of our campaign to bring about a bit of common sense in the police?s dealings with shooters while they are out and about in the countryside. The code of practice talks about many things, including the impact on communities of armed police operations. To my mind, that includes the shooting community.?

?Ours is a highly identifiable and law-abiding group. It is also one that, thanks to legitimate ownership and use of guns, and overzealous policing, seems to come into contact with armed police frequently. This makes our input into this consultation all the more vital. Currently the draft code of practice does not even mention the existence of legitimate firearms users in this country. This seems an enormous oversight and one that I sincerely hope will be addressed.?

?I would like to thank the large number of readers who contacted Shooting Times with their experiences of heavy-handed policing. Their submissions have helped shape our consultation response. I was shocked by many of the examples, and, also by the extent of the problem.?

?However, I was also reassured by many readers who have written in with examples of excellent, light-touch policing. It proves that not every police force believes armed terrorists are stalking their hedgerows.?

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