To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to why the Kent Police Authority retained for five years Sterling automatic rifles which were purchased for an anti-terrorist operation in 1978.
I understand that for several years after 1978, there was judged to be a possibility of further international conferences in Kent which might require similar operations to the one referred to by the hon. Member. The weapons in question were retained until the possible need for them was considered to have passed.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will call for a report from the chief constable of Kent as to whether Sterling automatic rifles were used in training exercises in the Kent area in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983, respectively.
I understand that while these weapons were in the possession of Kent constabulary they were used from time to time for training purposes. If any weapon is held by a police force, its officers must be given the appropriate training before the issue of the weapon can be authorised.