NABIS Urge Firearms Community To Stay Safe

7th November 2016

NABIS - the National Ballistics Intelligence Service - is asking the licensed firearms community to ensure they take reasonable precautions to keep themselves and their firearms safe.

Those who own firearms and use them for work or leisure activity are being reminded to take steps to prevent themselves becoming vulnerable to criminals.

The warning follows several incidents around the UK where firearms, in particular shotguns, have been stolen or lost from residential premises and vehicles.

Police forces are concerned that guns could end up in the wrong hands and be used in crime.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, Head of NABIS, said: "We work closely with the UK's shooting organisations and want to reduce the number of stolen or lost firearms. Gun owners must take all reasonable precautions to keep their firearms secure at all times and abide by the terms of their firearm or shotgun certificate.

"Avoid anything that makes it obvious you have firearms in your house or car and be careful about the messages you put out via social media. You may wish to vary your daily routine, we want to prevent firearms owners becoming targets for burglars and we are urging them to take sensible measures."

Firearms can have devastating consequences in the wrong hands. They can also be worth a lot of money.

BASC (the British Association for Shooting and Conservation) is the UK's largest shooting organisation; it has a membership of more than 145,000.

Bill Harriman, BASC's Director of Firearms, said: "BASC is pleased to support NABIS in the battle against crime. We approve of the partnership approach that Det Ch Supt Jo Chilton takes and welcome the important distinction that NABIS always draws between legal gun ownership and the illegally-owned firearms used by armed criminals.

"There is a qualified right to own a gun in Great Britain. However, rights always attract responsibilities and all licensed firearms owners have a duty - both statutory and moral - to make sure that their guns do not fall into the wrong hands by securing them when not in use. BASC wishes NABIS well in this venture."

There are thousands of firearms licence holders in the UK and the vast majority of them are law abiding sensible people who take care to look after their guns.

However in 2015 police recorded 635 licensed firearms which were stolen or lost. This included 356 stolen shotguns and 133 lost shotguns. Between 1 January and 30 September this year police have recorded 391 licensed firearms which have been stolen or lost. This figure does not include component parts, such as sound moderators, or ammunition.

Gun owners who require further guidance about firearms security can visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/firearms-handbook-2005

If you wish to surrender a firearm you can contact your local police force via 101.If you have information about gun crime you can contact your local force or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Det Ch Supt Chilton added: "The UK is on high alert following recent firearms attacks in Europe and we all need to remain vigilant to help stop criminals. Our communities have an important role to play to defeat terrorism.

"NABIS experts work with police forces in the UK to prevent and detect gun crime. We share intelligence with partner agencies to help protect the public. Illegal firearms are a national priority for UK law enforcement and police will continue to work tirelessly to investigate, seize and disrupt the illegal supply of firearms and ammunition."

The latest Office for National Statistics figures, issued last month, show that for year ending June 2016 firearms offences have increased by seven per cent - compared to the previous 12 months. A firearms offence does not necessarily mean a gun has been discharged. Under ONS rules a firearm can be used as a threat or blunt instrument to commit a crime.

According to the NABIS database, between 1 April 2015 and 31 March this year 859 firearms were recovered (these were predominantly illegal firearms). Of these 55 have been ballistically linked to criminal discharges and the remainder (804) had no ballistic connections to previous criminal discharges.

Data extracted from the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS) on firearm and shotgun certificates issued by police forces in England and Wales shows that:

Firearm certificates

  • there were 153,404 firearm certificates as at 31 March 2016; a decrease of 0.1% (-199) compared with the previous year.
  •  there were 539,194 firearms (covered by firearm certificates) as at 31 March 2016; an increase of 2.7% (14,069) compared with the previous year.
  •  of the 9,755 new applications for firearm certificates in the year to 31 March 2016, 97.7% (9,534) were granted and 2.3% (221) were refused.
  •  a total of 396 firearms certificates were revoked in the year to 31 March 2016; a decrease of 2.5% (-10) compared with the previous year.

Shotgun certificates

  •  there were 567,015 shotgun certificates as at 31 March 2016; a decrease of 2.7% (-15,479) compared with the previous year.
  •  there were 1,331,563 shotguns (covered by shotgun certificates) as at 31 March 2016; a decrease of 0.5% (-6,836) compared with the previous year.
  •  of the 22,596 new applications for shotgun certificates in the year to 31 March 2016, 96.8% (21,884) were granted and 3.2% (712) were refused.
  •  a total of 1,349 shotgun certificates were revoked in the year to 31 March 2016; a decrease of 1.7% (-24) compared with the previous year.

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