13 Jan 2016 – “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” – Ingsoc party slogan, Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell.
While looking into the history of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) – a police forensic lab that has mutated into an anti-shooting lobbying agency funded at taxpayers’ expense – UK Shooting News found a very curious snippet in Hansard, the Parliamentary record.
Back in 2008 James Brokenshire, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, asked the Home Office whether NABIS’ database of seized illegal guns would be connected to the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS), which is used for firearms licensing purposes, and something called the National Firearms Database, which appears to be linked to the Police National Computer.
The answer was given by Tony McNulty, the now-disgraced former Labour MP. It bears quoting in full.
The potential requirements for the sharing of information between the National Ballistics Intelligence Service Database (NABIS) and the National Firearms Licensing Management System was examined, and discussed, in detail by key stakeholders (including forensic and investigatory professionals) throughout the lifetime of the project management process.
It was found that the potential crossover between the data held by the systems was very small, due to the very low instances of legally held firearms being used in gun crime and the small overlap in information shared between the two applications. Furthermore, the data descriptors of ‘firearms recovered at Scenes of Crime’ and ‘firearms being licensed’ may be somewhat different and, as a result, inquiries would be passed from NABIS to expert firearms officers in the Licensing Departments. As a consequence, it was agreed that any risk of legally held firearms being used for criminal purposes was so low that given the difficulty of automating a matching process between systems, the cost of building such an interface would outweigh any perceived benefits.
The NABIS system has been designed to accredited police corporate data model standards, which means that information sharing may be possible in the future providing that there is a business case to do so.
UK Shooting News has bolded the relevant passages and the original can be viewed on the official Hansard website.
At the time McNulty was a Home Office minister holding the security, counter-terrorism, crime and policing brief, meaning he was speaking directly on behalf of the government.
For perhaps the first time in British firearms licensing history, a formal confirmation from the government that lawfully held firearms are very unlikely to be used in crime was placed on the record.
UK Shooting News urges British readers to spread this far and wide. It is vital ammunition in the fight against the EU gun ban plan and for holding police employees and their fellow travellers to account.
UKSN will continue analysing NABIS’ refusal to submit to scrutiny by Parliament in the meantime.