Shotgun and firearms licensing – a zero tolerance approach from the courts

11th April 2024

Last year was a busy year for the regulatory team, here are some of Ian Anderson’s recent shotgun and firearms licensing matters and their outcomes.

Case Study 1 – Client “DQ” – Sussex Police


DQ was an experienced shot who had his renewal application refused due to “information held” by the Police suggesting he was involved in criminal activity. DQ was unaware of the information and denied that it was accurate. We appealed and asked the Police to disclose the information, but they refused.

We gathered evidence to support DQ and made formal applications for disclosure of the intelligence. We argued that the law was clear in that the Court should have the material so it could make a properly informed decision and DQ should be allowed to see it and comment on it.

The Court agreed and ordered that the Police serve the missing evidence, or their case would be struck out. The evidence was not provided, and the case was struck out. The Police were ordered to pay a proportion of DQ’s costs.

Case Study 2 – Client “SV” – Cambridgeshire Police


Any person sentenced to a prison sentence for more than three months is disqualified from possessing a firearm in any circumstances for 5 years. If the sentence is more than three years, the ban (prohibition) is for life. The prohibition applies equally to suspended sentences. A prohibited person can apply to the Crown Court have the disqualification removed.

We applied to remove SV’s lifetime prohibition. SV had pleaded guilty to fraud in 2011 and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. SV had rebuilt his life and reputation, and we produced an impressive compendium of character material and a strong argument for the prohibition to be removed.

We presented the case to the Court and the Judge granted the application. We are pleased to report that SV has since had an application for a shotgun certificate granted.

Case Study 3 – Client “HT” – West Yorkshire Police


HT was a landowner who held firearms and shotgun licences. His certificates were revoked following an altercation on his land where he was alleged to have pointed a shotgun at a trespasser. The police had been called to the incident and HT was arrested for possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. We appealed the revocation and requested a meeting with the Chief Constable. We sent detailed statements from HT and witnesses setting out what had occurred to the Police ahead of the meeting.

We argued that the gun had been pointed toward a dog which was worrying cattle. The owner of the dog had been warned to get the dog under control or HT might be forced to shoot it. At this point the dog’s owner had become aggressive, assaulting HT. HT had retreated to his vehicle and his agri-pest consultant had called the police. The dog owner had also reported the incident, suggesting HT had pointed the shotgun at him. We vehemently denied this was the case.

Following a meeting with the Chief Constable HT’s certificates were reinstated.

Case Study 4 – Client “IO” – Metropolitan Police


IO had an application to renew his firearms certificate refused in unusual circumstances. Although there had never been any reports of domestic violence involving IO or his wife, the Police insisted that she answer the “Operation Titanium” domestic violence screening questions. The questions are mandatory in cases where domestic issues have been reported to the Police or safeguarding agencies, but the statutory guidance does not suggest that they ought to be asked where no domestic issues have been reported. IO’s wife refused to answer the questions or engage with the Police. IO did not feel he should force her to do so. IO’s application was refused on the basis that his wife had refused to cooperate with the Police.

We appealed, arguing there were no grounds to go beyond the statutory guidance in this case. The police responded that they had the policy in place to safeguard the public and that it was proportionate to ask the questions even where there was no evidence of domestic abuse.

The issue for the Court was whether the policy was lawful and whether, in the absence of cooperation from IO’s wife, the Police were correct to refuse the application. The Court refused the appeal. The Judge felt that the policy to go beyond the statutory guidance and ask the questions was appropriate and the police were rightly concerned by IO’s wife’s refusal to engage with them.

This was effectively a “test case” which led to the introduction and adoption of Operation Titanium by several Police forces as discussed in this BBC article:

Case Study 5 – Client “SC” – Hertfordshire Police


SC had an application for a shotgun certificate refused due to old cautions and convictions and his failure to disclose some of them in his application. The convictions and cautions all occurred when SC was a youth or a very young man. Now aged around 30, SC had built up an impressive business and led a law-abiding life for approximately 10 years. We provided detailed evidence of SC’s community work, business ethic and settled lifestyle and the Police agreed that if the appeal was withdrawn and the application replaced with one that disclosed all the previous convictions and cautions, they would grant a new application in January 2024 granted, subject to the usual medical checks.

Case Study 6 – Client “BX” – North Yorkshire Police


BX applied to renew a co-terminus certificate and was refused due to a report of vehicle interference and stalking which had occurred in 2022. We appealed the refusal and pointed out that the offence of vehicle interference requires an intention to steal either the vehicle or its contents, and that no such intention had ever been suggested. The incident itself was completely out of character for BX and there had been no repeat of the behaviour. Following a review by the Police, the decision to refuse the application was reversed, and the shotgun and firearms certificates were granted.

Case Study 7 – Client “ES” – South Yorkshire Police


ES had his shotgun certificate refused due to concerns about his son’s behaviour. The son had been arrested on numerous occasions and was bailed to ES’s address. ES had not done anything wrong himself, but his son’s behaviour had called into question whether ES could possess a shotgun safely. We appealed and requested a meeting with the Police. At the meeting we put forward suggestions that would reduce risks to acceptable levels. Agreement was reached and ES’s guns were returned.

Case Study 8 – Client “EE” – North Wales Police


This case was similar to the “BX” case above, albeit this time the Police refused EE’s application due to concerns about a dispute between EE’s father and a neighbour.

We persuaded the Police that most of the reports by the neighbour were unfounded and there had been a long period of stability. Crucially, EE had never done anything to antagonise the neighbour and although he had been cautioned for a wildlife offence, this had occurred when he was a young boy and an inexperienced shot.

EE was clearly a dedicated, passionate young outdoorsman. Having reviewed a wealth of positive material, the Police indicated that they no longer opposed the appeal. We further negotiated that a suggested condition that the shotgun be kept at another address could be avoided by the installation of a biometric safe.

Case Study 9 – Client “RT” – Durham Constabulary


RT had an application for a co-terminus certificate refused, due to police call outs following reports of domestic arguments at his home address and a police caution for harassment against his ex-partner. The harassment caution and police callouts had all occurred between 2015 and 2016 as RT’s relationship and marriage collapsed.

RT’s current partner supported his appeal as did several long-term friends and family.

The Police were not willing to meet or negotiate in this case. The appeal was refused by the Court. In refusing the appeal the Court found that RT did not fully accept that his behaviour amounted to harassment or that his actions had been wrong. The Court said that showed a lack of judgement on RT’s part.

Case Study 10 – Client “YF” – South Yorkshire Police


YF had got into an argument in a WhatsApp group and made threats to assault the person he was arguing with. There had been no physical violence, but the Police were sufficiently concerned by the messages to revoke YF’s certificates.

We appealed and arranged to meet with the Police. We aided our client in putting across his version of events which focussed time that had elapsed since the incident and suggested this was an idle and misguided threat.

YF supplied positive testimonials from his employer and friends and family who confirmed that he had learned from the experience. YF was young and somewhat naive at the time.

Having considered what YF had to say, the Police were willing to agree that YF would be grated a certificate from 1 June 2024 so long as there were no further negative reports.


2023 was a busy and interesting year for the firm in firearms licensing. The trend from 2022 for refusals and revocations to rise appears to have continued, as has the tendency for cases to settle without a full appeal. We have noted that many firearms licensing departments are reviewing certificate holders, particularly those who have had firearms temporarily seized in the past. We expect the trend for revocations and refusals based on past events to continue in 2024.

Our experiences suggests that domestic incidents will be treated very seriously by the Courts. The Police take an almost zero-tolerance approach to concerns around domestic abuse and the Crown Court has confirmed on more than one occasion that the Police approach is correct.

In contrast, we have been very pleased with the outcomes in cases where the Police have been willing to review the case, or where they have agreed to meet and discuss matters with the appellant. On numerous occasions in 2023 we were able to resolve the case without an appeal hearing, saving time, money and uncertainty.

We wish to emphasise that an important factor for any application for a renewal or grant is to ensure the information on the application form is correct. We have noted a zero-tolerance approach to applicants missing out details of convictions or cautions from many years ago, and for those who do not disclose previous treatment for notifiable medical conditions.

If you need any advice from Ian, please get in touch.

About the Author

Ian Anderson


He has significant experience in fraud, tax, money laundering, health and safety, environmental and trading standards cases. Ian is renowned for his expertise in shotgun and firearms licensing and for dealing with matters arising out of the Proceeds of Crime Act in the Crown Court. 

We’re here for you – contact us today

0300 124 0406

Contact Us