Appendix: Supplementary Government response |
Letter from Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary,
to the Chair of the Committee, 19 December 2012
Further to my evidence yesterday I wanted to update
you on progress in implementing the recommendations of the Home
Affairs Select Committee's Third Report on Firearms Control.
As you know, the Government is committed to the actions
set out in its response to the Committee's wide-ranging recommendations,
and I can report good progress made over recent months, helping
to further strengthen our approach to firearms control and protect
public safety, while ensuring the controls in place are practical
Progress has been made on introducing revised and
updated firearms guidance for the police. This is a large undertaking
as the Home Office guidance is comprehensive and detailed, presenting
complex firearms law as clearly as possible. We are about to
issue the first three chapters on line, so that the guidance is
readily accessible and can be easily updated, and we will continue
to issue further chapters in the New Year. We have consulted
ACPO and other stakeholders as part of the process to bring in
the new guidance.
Consultation took place over the summer on proposals
around the importation and supply of illegal firearms. Individuals
responsible for making firearms available to other criminals through
importation or supply, regardless of whether they use the weapons
themselves, should face tough and appropriate sentences. Following
the consultation earlier this year, we are planning to increase
the maximum sentence for the existing importation offence, and
to create a new offence of possession for sale or transfer of
prohibited firearms or ammunition. We are looking to legislate
as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
We are working with ACPO to bring in stronger guidance
on how reports of domestic violence should be treated by police
considering firearms applications. Although each case is considered
on its merits, we will discuss with ACPO amendment of the guidance
to make it clear that it is not appropriate to issue a firearm
or shotgun certificate where there is a history or successive
reports of domestic abuse. The proposal that the Canadian practice
of consulting the partners of firearms applicants should be introduced
here needs greater scrutiny and analysis of the evidence base,
to establish whether such a measure would reduce the risk to domestic
violence victims as intended.
Although the police now routinely contact each applicant's
GP to enable them to raise any concerns they may have about the
individual having access to a firearm or shot gun, we are continuing
to work with the British Medical Association (BMA) and ACPO to
see if the process could be strengthened further. My officials
will meet with the BMA and ACPO in the New Year to discuss a recent
proposal by the BMA to change the GP consultation process.
On deactivated weapons and whether further regulation
is needed to apply the tougher standard introduced in 1995 retrospectively
to all deactivated firearms, there is a need for further analysis
on whether the evidence merits such a change. My officials are
in discussion with ACPO on this issue, informed by reports from
the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS).
A single application form for firearms and shot guns
has been designed and is due to be introduced early next year.
The question of whether to address the peaks and troughs of firearms
licensing, which was an issue raised by the Committee, was considered
by the ACPO Firearms Licensing working group earlier this year,
with the consensus being that the legislation necessary to effect
change would not be a proportionate response as the problem would
diminish over time.
On the issue of whether the firearms prohibition
measures should apply to suspended sentences as they do now to
custodial sentences, work has begun with ACPO and the Ministry
of Justice to explore this. There would be a need for legislation
to implement such a proposal, and further work will take place
ACPO have put forward a revised proposal on new firearms
fees which is under consideration, and this is being taken forward
in conjunction with work by ACPO to introduce e-commerce to firearms
licensing, thereby making the licensing process more efficient
I hope this update is helpful and I will write separately
on your question regarding Tasers which you raised with me yesterday.