3rd July 2014

NABIS - The National Ballistics Intelligence Service has been working with the Home Office to bring about changes in the law around firearms.

Amendments to the Firearms Act 1968 will come into effect on 14 July this year and the firearms provisions in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 will come into force.

Suspended sentences

From 14 July 2014, if a person receives a suspended sentence of three months or more they will not be able to purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition for a period of five years from the second day after sentence. However, a person who received a suspended sentence before 14 July and already has a firearm certificate would be able to retain their firearm and ammunition for the duration of their certificate.

Life sentence for supply

Section 108 amends the Firearms Act 1968 to make it an offence to possess for sale or transfer prohibited weapons or ammunition with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Antique firearms

From 14 July 2014, a person who has served or received a criminal sentence will not be able to possess an antique firearm. The prohibition applies to anyone who has served a custodial sentence of more than three years or has served a custodial sentence or received a suspended sentence, of between three months and three years. A person to whom this applies and who currently lawfully possesses an antique firearm will need to dispose of it by 14 July.

Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson, ACPO lead for the Criminal Use of Firearms, said: "The problem of antique weapons being used in crime is an emerging threat we need to address. The law has been changed to make communities safer and we welcome the tighter controls. The change in legislation closes any loopholes which may be exploited by criminals.

"We are not looking to target genuine antiques collectors who may have an item as a curio or ornament. However sometimes antique weapons end up in the wrong hands and offenders buy these types of weapons and obtain ammunition by criminal means.

Antique weapons can legally be held as curios or ornaments due to their age and the fact that the appropriate ammunition is obsolete. However they can become viable firearms if a criminal with the right know-how manufactures their own ammunition.

DCC Thompson added: "The change in sentencing for supply offences is also an important amendment to the Firearms Act. The possibility of life imprisonment for offenders will certainly act as a powerful deterrent.

NABIS has been operational since 2008 and works with police forces to reduce gun crime levels and provide a national centre of excellence for forensic science, intelligence and knowledge. The NABIS team work to drive forward changes in legislation alongside partners including the CPS and Home Office.

Forces around the UK can benefit from the NABIS bespoke service to analyse ballistic material in quick time and identify linked gun crime data. Experts work out of hubs in Birmingham, London, Manchester and Scotland.

Levels of gun crime have fallen dramatically over the last decade offences fell from 24,000 in 2003 to 8,135 in 2013 (according to ONS data).

If you have information about a crime contact independent charity Crimestoppers by dialling 0800 555111.

NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS: For more information about the changes in legislation please visit the Home Office website.

The draft amendments in the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill commence on 14 July 2014, namely:

Supply - Section 108 amends the Firearms Act 1968 to make it an offence to possess for sale or transfer prohibited weapons or ammunition with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Scotland - Section 109 amends the Firearms Act 1968 to ensure that the Scotland has the necessary functions to exercise their authorities under the Firearms Act.

Antiques - Section 110: Possession of firearms by persons previously convicted of crime - extends the definition of a prohibited person and amends the Firearms Act to ensure that persons prohibited from possessing firearms under section 21 will now be unable to possess antique firearms.




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