South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner reassures public over firearms procedures following Plymouth shooting

Dr Alan Billings has sought to reassure the public over South Yorkshire Police’s firearms procedure, following a shooting in Plymouth which left six people, including the gunman, dead.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 2:34 pm

On August 12, Jake Davison killed five people, including a three year old girl – before turning the gun on himself in Plymouth.

The decision to return Davidson’s shotgun after it was confiscated when he was accused of assault is currently being investigated by the police watchdog.

Now, South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has outlined the firearms licensing procedure to reassure the public in a new report.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings.

The report states that firearms licensing “has been subject to radical changes over the last eight years which has seen it move from a paper based to a completely digitised system”.

It adds that the standard of enquires and levels of intervention have also increased with the digital system, and that Home Office procedures to revoke licenses are “robust”.

“Applications are dealt with by each local force and since 2021 people have begun by applying and paying on line,” said Dr Billings.

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“Applications are then added to the national firearms licensing management system and applicants visited by a firearms enquiry officer.

“They will determine the suitability of the applicant, considering such factors as their ability to keep a weapon safely and whether they have any history of domestic abuse or any medical health condition that might suggest caution.

“The information is reviewed by senior officers, risks assessed, and a decision made. Their decisions can be appealed at the Crown Court.

“Since 2016 applicants have been required to be screened by their GP and the police write to them. This seemed the wrong way round to me and I gather that the process may be changed nationally so that the applicant will have to get a medical report first, as part of the application process.

“I was reassured by the fact that the system is frequently checked and monitored so that any misconduct by the license holder or medical notification from a GP is quickly picked up – though we do need GPs to be alert.

“Licenses can be revoked – which again is subject to appeal.”