Clause 81: BASC now supports amendments to Policing and Crime Bill

14 April 2016 – The British Association for Shooting and Conservation now wants the controversial Clause 81 of the Policing and Crime Bill to be amended to include shooting organisations.

Last week UK Shooting News reported that the clause, as drafted, puts a duty on the Home Secretary to consult the police – and only the police – on changes to the Home Office Guidance on Firearms Law. Other clauses in the bill will make the guidance legally binding on police.

This week the Scottish Association for Country Sports said there was nothing to worry about and that shooting organisations would still be consulted on changes, via the police Firearms and Explosive Licensing Working Group (FELWG)’s practitioner working group.

Now BASC has announced that it is actively seeking changes to Clause 81. From documents issued earlier today by the association, we learn:

At subsection 5 to this clause [81], the Home Secretary is required to consult the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland before issuing guidance. BASC asserts that this duty should be extended to shooting stakeholders. The Home Office routinely draws upon the shooting community‚Äôs expertise already by asking for comments on each new tranche of its guidance. This arrangement ought to be formalised.

It continues:

No indication is given about enforcement to ensure compliance. This could lead to delays in decisions being made. Certificate holders need to have access to balanced, independent decision makers e.g. the judiciary. No mention is made of any such mechanism.

There are a raft of other changes BASC suggests which go into detail, relating to the other firearms clauses in the bill. These include a recommendation that Home Office club approval should apply to all section 1 firearms, not just rifles and muzzle-loading pistols, and that the proposed airgun power limit be raised to 3 joules, as reflects the evidence available on lethality.

The full BASC submission can be read here (PDF).

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