Police target gun owners
Gun owners in Merseyside are being surprised by unannounced police visits that they say are merely “spot checks” or simple “routine”
Police are reportedly making “spot checks” on the homes of firearm and shotgun certificate holders in Merseyside. Officers are demanding to inspect the owners’ firearms and their security. However, Home Office guidance does not allow such action without good cause.
Bill Harriman, BASC’S director of firearms, said: “It appears the visits have been made without prior arrangement and by… four people. In all cases, no proper reason was given for the visit. Such that was given was limited to unsatisfactory phrases like ‘spot checks’ and ‘routine visit’. It is quite clear from the 2016 Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing that the police cannot just turn up to someone’s home and demand entry unless they have proper reason to do so.
“They must make a proper explanation to the certificate holder, who still retains discretion not to admit them.”
BASC is contacting all members in Merseyside outlining the Home Office guidance, which only allows for unannounced home visits where it is “judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat or risk of harm”.
Mr Harriman added: “There is no statutory right of entry to a private home for the purposes of firearms licensing. If it is inconvenient to admit police personnel for any reason they should be told that this is the case and be asked to return at a convenient time, having made a proper appointment to do so. A clear and reasoned explanation as to why the visit has been made should be [given]. Vague excuses such as ‘it’s just routine’ should not be accepted.”
BASC has written to Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke to ask why the force appears to be adopting the practice and has warned the approach risks damaging the relationship between the shooting community and Merseyside Police.
“The police cannot just turn up to someone’s home and demand entry without a reason to do so”
Licence holders in Merseyside have reported random police visits
Under Home Office guidelines police must have cause to make home visits