Our specialist firearms licensing solicitor Ian Anderson provides an overview of some of the shotgun and firearms licensing cases we’ve dealt with in the last 12 months; and reflects on the trends emerging in such cases.
Case Study 1 – Chief Constable of Kent Constabulary
The appellant failed to disclose antiquated convictions when he applied for a shotgun certificate. The most recent conviction was from the mid-1990s. He was refused on the basis that he had not been open and transparent in his application, and further that there was police intelligence linking him to more recent involvement in crime where his home address had been searched.
We obtained clear evidence that our client held a genuine belief that his convictions no longer had to be declared and the police intelligence was an irrelevance.
The appeal was heard at the Canterbury Crown Court. The appeal was successful, and our client’s application was granted.
Case Study 2 – Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police
Our client had held a co-terminus (combined shotgun and firearm) certificate for 30 years. His certificate was revoked following an incident of disorder for which he received a police caution. We were able to demonstrate that side-effects from prescription medication were likely to have influenced his understanding of the situation. We also served very positive character material.
On the day of the appeal our client agreed to an undertaking which allowed him to have his certificate and firearms returned subject to conditions to lodge them with a registered firearms dealer overnight. We will review those arrangements in 12 months.
Case Study 3 – Chief Constable of Dorset Police
Our client had his firearms and shotgun certificates revoked due to allegations of domestic turmoil and potential mental health issues. We lodged an appeal and negotiated with the Chief Constable. Following a positive meeting with a chief inspector and the provision of medical evidence, our client’s certificates were restored.
This was a good example of the importance of lodging an appeal to preserve a negotiating position and maintaining a positive relationship with the Police.
Case Study 4 – Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police
Our client was refused a shotgun certificate due to his previous convictions. The appeal was lodged, and a meeting was arranged with the Chief Constable. We served a detailed statement and character material, and assisted in the interview process. We made it clear that our client had moved on with his life after a rocky start and was a changed character.
Following the meeting and a period of reflection by the Police, our client’s application was granted with a warning that if he came to the attention of the Police his status as a certificate holder would be reviewed.
Case Study 5 – Chief Constable of Humberside Police
Our client had his certificates revoked due to domestic instability. An appeal was lodged at Hull Crown Court and a meeting with the Chief Constable arranged. Following the service of material demonstrating that our client had been a victim of domestic abuse and subjected to false allegations by his former partner, it was agreed that an application in six months would be granted provided no further incidents were recorded.
Our client has now had his application granted. The case is another good example of achieving a positive outcome by negotiation.
Case Study 6 – Chief Constable of Northumbria Police
Our client had his application for a shotgun certificate refused for medical reasons and failing to disclose a caution for criminal damage.
We appealed and negotiated an agreement that an application in the new year would be granted should sufficient time elapse without further incident. The police accepted in negotiations that our client did not suffer from any form of stress related illness and that his failure to declare the caution was an oversight and not deliberate.
Case Study 7 – Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary
We appealed the revocation of our client’s shotgun certificate. He had been granted a certificate with a warning that if he came to the attention of the police, his certificate may be revoked. The police were subsequently alerted to a low-level domestic incident and although the police attended the address, no charges were brought, and our client was not arrested. Our client’s appeal was refused by the Court.
In refusing the appeal the Judge commented that the Court felt that our client’s behaviour at that time was uncontrolled. The Judge felt that it was unnecessary for our client to get involved in the incident and that showed a lack of judgement.
It is encouraging that almost all the cases above have concluded positively. The outcomes demonstrate that satisfactory results can be negotiated without taking the case to a final hearing. Interestingly, the Kent matter was the only case in which the police did not wish to meet the appellant or negotiate and whilst the outcome was fantastic, it was a stressful experience for our client.
The Durham appeal highlights the level of scrutiny that the Court will undertake when assessing a certificate holder’s conduct. The incident involved only a verbal argument which had occurred after the complainant had called the police for advice.
The West Yorkshire, Northumbria, Dorset and Humberside cases indicate a trend toward negotiating outcomes and away from “all or nothing” appeals. Reaching an agreement removes the uncertainty and stress associated with an appeal in the Crown Court. However, as the Kent case demonstrates, on occasion there is little option but to press on.