Security advice: What to do if Barclays Bank demands your gun info

9th June 2016 – Following reports that Barclays Bank is demanding rifle clubs banking with them hand over members’ sensitive personal data, UKSN presents some simple security tips to follow if you’re targeted by them.

  1. Get it in writing. If you get a phonecall from a withheld number, no matter what they tell you, it could be anyone. Your bank shouldn’t have a problem putting its correspondence with you in writing – and they should already have your postal/email address on file. If the person on the phone asks for your address, or for you to confirm it, don’t give it to them.
  2. Don’t hand over anyone’s information without their consent. To comply with the Data Protection Act you should not hand over any personal information on your club members to a third party without the express permission of the people whose data you are handling. The financial penalties for ignoring the law, or assuming your members would be OK with it, are severe, and the Information Commissioner is cracking down on SMEs and other small data processors. Don’t become a test case.
  3. Do not disclose information about FACs, firearms or Home Office approval. Rifle clubs do not need Home Office approval to operate; that merely gives approved clubs some extra privileges that non-approved clubs don’t have.* Holding an FAC is not mandatory to handle firearms, either. Think security: do you really trust the anonymous bank clerk with the knowledge of exactly where your club’s firearms are stored, or with the names and addresses of firearms owners? Would you tell another stranger? Then don’t tell them.
  4. Ask why they’re asking. The bank should not target a particular group or sub-set of its customers without good reason. If they can’t prove good reason, with reference to a published policy document signed by a contactable individual, tell them politely to go away.
  5. Alert the police. Firearms security is everyone’s responsibility. Call your local firearms licensing team and let them know that you’re being targeted by people trying to force you to disclose information about certificate holders. The police are (allegedly) there to help us in these situations. Consider informing Action Fraud as well.
  6. Alert the NRA and NSRA. Contact your affiliated national governing bodies so they can engage with the bank on our behalf and get this stopped.
  7. Alert other shooters and local clubs. Spread the word. Forewarned is forearmed.

A Facebook post forwarded to UKSN sheds a little more light on the situation. Allegedly part of a response from Barclays to a concerned club official, it says:

We need to see a copy [of your Home Office Approval] as the bank is required to check our customers involved in this area are operating within the law. The firearms act 1997 explains: Clubs need an approval from the Home Office to allow club members (who do not have their own licences) to possess firearms while target shooting at the club. As this can be revoked at any time, we have no other means of checking than asking for a copy and to prevent any fraud, that is why we have asked for you write ‘copy’ across the copied document prior to sending.”

Don’t fall for this. You are under no obligation to supply any third party with information about your club, your members or your firearms.

* UKSN’s author has set up two Home Office Approved rifle clubs from scratch. It is perfectly possibly to legally run a rifle club – or any sports club, for that matter – without Home Office Approval, especially if the only people handling firearms hold personal FACs. Moreover, the miniature rifle gallery exemption at section 11(4) of the Firearms Act 1968 allows people to shoot .22 rifles on a range without holding a certificate of their own.

Section 15(1) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 allows a member of a Home Office Approved rifle club to possess a rifle and ammunition in connection with target shooting without himself holding a certificate. It means club members do not need a personal certificate – but is not mandatory for all rifle clubs, as detailed above.

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