BASC is advising members not to participate in a voluntary cartridge retention scheme being undertaken by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

GMP is asking certificate holders to collect samples of spent cartridge cases from all firearms in their possession and claims the scheme may help identify shotguns stolen and subsequently used in crime.

BASC has written to GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins to outline concerns about the scheme, which it believes is not based on sound science, is ineffective and will waste police time.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms and an accredited firearms forensics expert, said: “This is not a new idea. It was tried and discarded by GMP and other police forces a few years ago. It is not scientifically sound.

“The information yielded from a fired cartridge case is generally only good at the time when it was fired because a gun’s forensic profile changes each time it is used. The profile of a shotgun’s barrels would change over a 100-bird clay session and also after a good clean with a phosphor bronze brush.

“A scheme such as this is only effective when you have guns firing a small number of cartridges occasionally.

“The forensic information recovered from a fired case is dependent on at least four factors and essentially, what can be gleaned from a gun firing cartridge brand A may not be the same as the same gun with cartridge brand B.”

While BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, was not consulted by GMP before the scheme was rolled out, the association has offered the force the support of its full-time firearms team.

Mr Harriman added: “BASC is always happy to set its hand to any police initiative that will strike at armed crime. That is not the case here because this scheme is not based on sound science. BASC does not support this scheme and advises its members not to participate in it.

“Nevertheless, we will gladly work with GMP to help improve the service it provides to its certificate holders.”

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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