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Volume 124: debated on Thursday 10 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report how many firearms, of what calibres and types (a) civilian held, (b) police owned, and (c) armed forces owned, which have been (i) stolen and (ii) recovered in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.

Information on the number of burglaries and thefts recorded by the police in which firearms were reported to have been stolen, by principal weapon type and location of incident, is published in tables 3.12 and 3.13 of "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1986" (Cm 233) copies of which are in the Library. Information is not collected centrally on the numbers of weapons stolen in these incidents, on their ownership or on the number subsequently recovered. The information included for thefts and for burglaries from military establishments is thought to be incomplete because such offences are not necessarily reported to and recorded by the police. Comprehensive figures for thefts from the armed forces are not readily available.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has made any estimate of the number of lives which will be saved annually as a result of his recently announced measures for firearms control, and how many would arise (a) from the reduced use of firearms by the legal holders of such weapons and (b) from the reduced use of firearms in the commission of other criminal acts which end in murder or manslaughter.

It is not possible to estimate how many lives might be saved by the Government's proposals for new firearms controls. The Government believe, however, that the new measures will reduce the risk of firearms misuse, which the Hungerford shootings and other recent incidents have shown to be unacceptably high.