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This win will not go unnoticed by police

BASC’s Fighting Fund, set up to come to the aid of members who have been victims of injustice, has won costs against Cheshire Constabulary.

BASC is the only UK shooting organisation that offers its members access to a full-time, in-house team of experts. Thousands of calls and emails are received every year by BASC’s firearms officers, who provide the best possible advice on legal, technical and practical matters. 

The firearms team also provides forensic evidence and expert legal support for members facing court proceedings. Last year a BASC member contacted our firearms team seeking help with an appeal against the revocation of his certificate by Cheshire Constabulary. The BASC firearms team deals with many such cases — strictly for existing members only — and follows due diligence and legal advice to make sound decisions before supporting appeals. 

While I am unable to divulge the details, the circumstances surrounding this revocation were a clear injustice based on an ill-considered and risk-averse decision by the police, and we supported the member with his appeal. In doing so, we had the backing of BASC’s Fighting Fund, a seven-figure ring-fenced reserve to take up legal cases defending members and shooting. 

Common sense 

What this means from a member’s perspective is the peace of mind that if we take up your case, you are not at financial risk of paying any legal costs. We cover that for you and all through the process we are on hand to give advice and help. Most cases we take on are dealt with relatively quickly and common sense prevails. However, in this instance, the police dug their heels in, so we put them on notice that, if the appeal was upheld, we would seek costs (see p7). 

The police had five months to consider conceding but left it to the last minute, causing unnecessary stress to our member. Indeed, the member’s solicitor commented that no reasonable firearms licensing authority would take the view on the available evidence that they should be deprived of a certificate. 

Thus, with the appeal upheld, we sought costs and the judge ruled in the member’s favour, citing the fact that the case should have been resolved last year. This was reflected in the decision by Cheshire Constabulary to concede prior to the case coming to court. Cost orders in favour of the appellant are uncommon and indicate how strong the case was. 

This win will not go unnoticed across the police forces. It strengthens our position as an organisation that will seek justice and has the resolve and financial resource to follow through on that. 

Having an excellent law firm is crucial to success and in that we have Brabners, which did all the litigation and continues to provide BASC and its members with a dedicated and experienced legal team. Our special thanks to Lachlan Nisbet and Jon Walters for a successful outcome to our appeal. 

As well as supporting individual members on a case-by-case basis, we continue to lobby for improvements in firearms licensing to benefit all. Waiting times for certificate renewals in many police forces are untenable and some forces are not even considering new grants. GPs refuse to engage in firearms licensing and others charge exorbitant fees to check records against an applicant’s medical declaration. BASC’s medical panel can help if this affects you. 

All of this is having an impact. The 2022- 23 firearms licensing statistics published for England and Wales revealed a year-on-year 3% drop in firearms certificate holders and a 4% drop in shotgun certificates. 

There are both threats and opportunities ahead. We await the outcome of last year’s firearms licensing consultation; the Home Office is currently consulting on deregulating moderators; and proposals to increase firearms licensing fees could be imminent. 

And BASC continues to campaign for 10- year certificates, which would help address some of the issues.