The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has challenged a North Wales Police plan to carry out spot checks on legally held firearms and ammunition in breach of Government guidelines and without consulting stakeholders.
The operation is due to start on 3rd December in South Gwynedd and will involve uniformed officers conducting unannounced checks on firearms storage and security.
BASC’s objections include:
1) A uniformed police presence could compromise firearms security by announcing the presence of firearms in a home.
2) The police do not have automatic legal powers of entry to inspect firearms security.
3) The spot checks go against Home Office guidance, which states that home visits should be arranged by prior appointment at a mutually convenient time.
BASC also believes that uniformed officers without specialist firearms licensing training may be unaware of the details of legal requirements for firearms security. For example the method of secure storage is not specified in law which says that "reasonably practicable precautions" must be taken.
BASC has written to the Chief Constable of North Wales Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales to call a halt to the plan. BASC is also writing to every BASC member in the affected areas of Dwyfor, Eifionydd, and Meirionydd.
BASC’s director of firearms Bill Harriman said: "We would rather be working with the police to improve security than working against this type of dragnet operation. BASC does not support this initiative and is advising members that they are not obliged to co-operate with it. We believe if there is cause for concern with an individual, they should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. We are advising members that they do not have to give police officers access to their home for the inspection of security unless the police are acting to protect life and property under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, they have a magistrates’ warrant, a revocation letter has been served or they intend to seize a firearm used in a crime."
Any member who needs advice can contact BASC’s firearms team on 01244 573010.