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Firearms

Volume 124: debated on Monday 14 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to whether the local police had been advised or were aware prior to the recent shooting of a court bailiff and a solicitor's clerk at Wolverhampton that the occupier of the house from which he was being evicted was in possession of a shotgun and—or had threatened violence against anyone attempting to dispossess him prior to the date on which the shootings took place.

I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands police that his officers were not consulted before this eviction took place; and that they were not asked to attend it. They were therefore unaware of any threat of violence. It was established, after the tragedy, that the occupier had been lawfully in possession of a shotgun.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the bodies which he consulted before publishing the White Paper on firearms.

The following organisations were consulted and a number of others volunteered their views:

  • Arms and Armour Society
  • Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Association of County Councils
  • Association of District Councils
  • Association of Metropolitan Authorities
  • British Deer Society
  • British Medical Association
  • British Shooting Sports Council and Constituent Bodies
  • Council for the Protection of Rural England
  • County Landowners' Association
  • Countryside Commission
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Forestry Commission
  • Historical Breech Loading and Small Arms Association
  • Imperial War Museum
  • National Farmers' Union
  • Nature Conservancy Council
  • Red Deer Commission
  • Royal Armouries
  • Scottish Shooting Council
  • Scottish Sports Council
  • Shooters' Rights Association
  • Shooting Sportspersons' Liaison Committee
  • Sports Council
  • Sports Council for Wales
  • Welsh Shooting Council

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if, pursuant to his answer of 8 December, he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to why the firearms referred to therein were destroyed;(2) if, pursuant to his answer of 8 December, he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to the year in which the anti-terrorist operation referred to therein took place; and at what location;(3) if, pursuant to his answer of 8 December, he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to the date on which the weapons referred to therein were destroyed;(4) if, pursuant to his answer of 8 December, he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to the cost to the police authority of the weapons referred to therein;(5) if, pursuant to his answer of 8 December, he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to whether all members of the police authority were informed of the purchase by the Kent police of the weapons referred to therein.

As I stated in my reply to the hon. Member on 8 December, at column 133, the firearms referred to were acquired for a specific anti-terrorist operation. This was conducted in 1978 at Leeds castle, Maidstone, Kent.As part of the nationally agreed policy not to dispose of surplus firearms on the open market or to sell them off to firearms dealers, the weapons were destroyed on 7 February 1983. The chief constable was entitled to act on his own authority in this matter. The financial records for the period in question have not been retained.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what information he has for England and Wales, and for each year from 1976 to 1986, from the number of rifles, shotguns and pistols recovered by the police from armed criminals, as to how many firearms had been acquired by the criminal from sources other than loss by or theft from licensed firearms and shotgun certificate holders; and what those sources were for each category of firearm;(2) what information he has for England and Wales, and for each year from 1976 to 1986 inclusive, as to how many rifles, pistols and shotguns lost by or stolen from licensed firearms certificate holders or shotgun certificate holders were subsequently used in any type of violence against the person, particularly homicide, serious injury and armed robbery;(3) what information he has, for England and Wales, and for each year from 1976 to 1986 inclusive, by type of offence and type of firearm, rifle, pistol or shotgun, as to how many firearm offences were committed by licensed firearms certificate holders or shotgun certificate holders which resulted in death or injury to a person other than the holder.

I would refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave to questions from my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on 30 November and from the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) on 7 December, at columns 3–4.