Bedfordshire Police revoke gun licences more than 100 times in 13 years

Following the mass shooting in Plymouth, forces are being urged to review their firearm application process

Friday, 20th August 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Friday, 20th August 2021, 11:00 am

Police revoked the rights of gun owners in Bedfordshire more than 100 times in 13 years, figures show.

Following the recent mass shooting in Plymouth police forces across England and Wales have been urged to review their firearm application processes.

Jake Davison killed five and wounded two others after having his gun licence reinstated just months after it was revoked following his involvement in a fight.

Floral tributes in Plymouth

In light of the gunman's deadly attack, the Government is calling on forces to review their current vetting processes and look at whether they need to revisit existing licences.

Home Office figures show Bedfordshire Police was the only force in the country not to revoke any licences in the year to March.

In the same period, the force approved 238 new applications for firearm or shotgun licences but refused permission in one case.

Since 2008, when recording began, officers have approved 4,457 applications but revoked 180 licences and refused 20 applications for renewal.

A firearms certificate can be revoked for several reasons, including if a holder presents a danger to the public, is of "intemperate habits or unsound mind", no longer has a good reason to possess a firearm or has failed to comply with conditions under which the certificate is held.

The data shows that more than 560,000 people across England and Wales held shotgun or firearm licences in March, including 6,204 in Bedfordshire.

The Government is now preparing to publish statutory guidance in an effort to ensure "greater consistency and higher standards" of decision making around firearms licensing.

Changes are likely to include greater scrutiny of an applicant's internet and social media use.

But the British Association for Shooting and Conservation says the process has taken too long, with a spokesman adding that the organisation had warned successive Government ministers of deadly consequences if stricter vetting processes were not implemented.

BASC is calling on the Government to introduce a statutory obligation that would see a marker included on medical notes indicating whether a patient had access to guns.

Christopher Graffius, from BASC, said: "I have been calling for this since 2013 and have told ministers that we would end up with people dead, likely women."

He added: "It is in the shooting community's interest to ensure public safety and it is absolutely awful to see tragedies like this."

Gill Marshall-Andrews of the Gun Control Network said most licensed gun owners were law abiding, adding: "But what is clear is that the more guns there are in circulation the greater the chance of an atrocity like this one in Plymouth.

"We need much more oversight of gun owners in this country."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Incidents such as Thursday’s horrific events in Plymouth are thankfully rare, but their impact is profound, not only on those directly affected but on the public as a whole.

"We constantly assess what sensible and proportionate steps we can take to help prevent such terrible loss of life happening."