"I strongly encourage those of you who want changes to our gun laws to make a stand and send in your views to the Home Office consultation." Luke Pollard - Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Guide on how to submit your views to the consultation
- Please submit your response by 23 August 2023 by –
- Completing the online form at: https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/firearms-licensing/
- Email to: email@example.com
Here is an example of how to format your document for an email submission based on Luke’s submission
- Below, underlined are the questions asked in the consultation. In bold are the mandatory yes/no responses made by Luke to the consultation’s questions.
- Please note: in italics under each question are additional comments made by Luke. This is optional and there is a space at the end of the consultation form for additional comments.
- For more detail, please see the government’s website page on the consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/firearms-licensing-recommendations-for-changes/firearms-licensing-a-consultation-on-recommendations-for-changes-made-to-the-home-office-accessible
Full name: Luke Pollard MP
Job title or capacity in which you are responding to this consultation exercise (for example, member of the public): Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.
Company name/organisation (if applicable)
Address: Luke Pollard MP, House of Commons, London.
Postcode: SW1A 0AA
If you would like us to acknowledge receipt of your response, please tick this box
Recommendations relating to changes to legislation
(a) A power of immediate seizure of firearms, shotguns and ammunition
Q1. Do you consider that the police should be granted a specific power of entry (without a warrant issued by a magistrate or sheriff) to be able to seize shotguns, firearms and ammunition where there is a risk to public safety or the peace and the certificate holder does not cooperate with the police and agree to voluntary surrender?
If there is a concern, public safety must be the priority. As ever, the police should use these powers proportionally.
(b) Mandatory prohibitions
Q2. Do you consider that the prohibition on possessing firearms should be changed from one that is based solely on length of a custodial sentence following conviction, to one based more on the nature of the offence?
Yes, on the condition that this is to the benefit not the detriment of public safety. The Coroner in the Keyham inquest noted that the thresholds for prohibition may allow some people continued access to shotguns or firearms when inappropriate, such as violent offenders who are given community disposals. This shortcoming must be resolved.
(c) Length of certificate before renewal required
Q3. Do you consider that the renewal period (currently every five years) for a certificate should be kept under review? If so, is renewal every five years the right period of time or should it be changed to a shorter or longer period of time?
Length of certificate before renewal
5 years (the current period)
Less than 5 years
The renewal period should not be extended. There are grounds to make it shorter in certain circumstances, such as for first applications and in higher-risk cases.
Recommendations relating to referees
Q4. Do you consider that people applying for shotgun certificates should provide two referees?
Yes, the requirement should be increased from one referee to two referees.
Q5. Do you consider that at least one of the referees should be a person of certain standing in the community (e.g. of a professional background)? This could include public officials (both elected and Civil Servants or Local Government officers), members of a regulated profession (including doctors, nurses, solicitors, barristers, accountants and FCA regulated finance professionals), officers of registered shooting clubs, National Farmers’ Union representatives, landlords, land managers, vets or surveyors.
At least one referee should be a person of standing in the community, on condition that they also fulfil the IOPC recommendation that referees should have (a) recent knowledge of the applicant e.g. within the last 12 months and (b) reasonably in-depth knowledge of the applicant’s character, circumstances, temperament and overall fitness to be entrusted with a firearm – as set out in section 4.8 of the consultation document.
Q6. Do you consider that referees should be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of the applicant’s circumstances, relevant to their suitability to possess a firearm or shotgun?
I agree with the IOPC recommendation that referees should have (a) recent knowledge of the applicant e.g. within the last 12 months and (b) reasonably in-depth knowledge of the applicant’s character, circumstances, temperament and overall fitness to be entrusted with a firearm – as set out in section 4.8 of the consultation document.
Q7. Do you consider that the application form should include a checklist for referees on the information that they should provide to the police, and require referees to provide a written declaration that they have disclosed all relevant facts to the police?
As noted in section 4.12 of the consultation document, the Senior Coroner in the Keyham inquest noted that no, or insufficient, information is given to referees concerning what they should disclose to the police about the applicant and their suitability.
Q8. Do you consider that the Statutory Guidance should include more detailed guidance for the police on the information they should be looking to elicit from referees?
Yes, and this should be part of a new national training course with the College of Policing, standardised across the country.
Q9. Do you consider that the police should look at the circumstances when individuals change referees between application and renewal, and between subsequent renewals?
Yes, and they should be trained on this as part of a new national training course with the College of Policing, standardised across the country.
Q10. Do you consider that the sharing of the unique application reference number by the applicant with their referees would make it easier for referees to report concerns they have about applicants to the police, or to decline to give references, or, for those who give references but subsequently become concerned that the applicant may no longer be suitable to have access to a firearm or shotgun, to report this later to the police.
Yes, and referees should have a duty to report any new concerns or developments after a shotgun has been licenced.
Q11. Do you consider that the content in the Statutory Guidance should be expanded and made more prescriptive in relation to the suitability checks carried out by the police for firearm and shotgun applicants and certificate holders?
Q12. Do you consider that the balance of probabilities test is the correct test to apply in the Statutory Guidance to information about a person’s suitability to hold a certificate? This is the test that the police have been using for many years and is applied in weighing the evidence and information in any individual case.
Whichever test is used, it should prioritise public safety and be standardised across the country. If a balance of probabilities test is used resulting in the refusal of a licence, clear reasoning based on precedent should be given to protect the decision against the chance of appeal.
Q13. Do you consider that neurodevelopmental disorders should be added to the list of relevant medical conditions in the Statutory Guidance (and application form)?
In the case of the tragedy in Keyham, despite the 2016 Home Office guidance in force at that time, inadequate steps were taken to obtain specific medical evidence regarding the extent to which the perpetrator’s declared autism and Asperger’s might impact upon his suitability to hold a shotgun licence. Appropriate measures should be put in place to prevent this happening in the future.
Q14. Do you consider that GPs’ engagement with the firearms licensing process should be made mandatory?
Yes, and this should be extended to other medical professional also.
Q15. Do you consider that interim medical checks should be made on licensed firearms holders between the grant of the certificate and any application to renew?
Q16. Do you consider that the digital marker for use by GPs on the medical records of licensed firearms holders should be visible to other health professionals?
Since the Keyham tragedy took place, I have argued for a marker on all patient records to show if a patient has access to a firearm. The debate has mainly focused on GPs, however not everyone attending a primary care appointment is seen by a GP. For the medical marker system to be effective, it must be accessible to, and understood by, all medical professionals – including walk-in centres, paramedics and emergency departments.
Q17. Do you consider there should be more mental health advice and support for licensed firearms holders through, for example, advice leaflets and other such support?
Knowing where to go when struggling with mental health concerns is vital. This information should include national as well as local support.
Q18. Do you consider a specific phoneline should be introduced in addition to the services already available to report concerns about a licensed firearms holder?
There should be an online reporting function also.
Q19. How in principle should any specific phoneline be funded?
Other source of funding
Public funding, but this should not prohibit the service from being equally available across the country.
Q20. Do you consider that it would be better to raise awareness of existing avenues open to raise concerns about a licensed firearms holder (999, 101, Crimestoppers, force firearms licensing contacts) than create a new phoneline service?
This should not be an either/or matter. The government should make sure that, however a concern is reported, it will be treated appropriately.
If you have any comments on the subject matter of this consultation, please enter below.
Please see the above comments and the attached letter.