HC Deb 09 July 2002 vol 388 cc898-9W
John Austin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many offences were recorded involving the use of an air weapon in each year since 1997; [65288]

(2) what advice he has received from the Firearms Consultative Committee on the purchase, possession and use of air guns: and if he will make a statement; [65287]

(3) what progress he has made in implementing the recommendations which the Government accepted from the Home Affairs Committee's report, "Controls over firearms"; and if he will make a statement; [65284]

(4) if he will introduce a licensing scheme for air rifles; and if he will make a statement; [65285]

(5) how many offences resulting in injury to the person were recorded involving the use of an air weapon; and how many of these are recorded as attempted murder or other acts endangering life in each year since 1997; [65289]

(6) what action he plans to take on controls on air rifles following the shooting with an air rifle; and if he will make a statement. [65286]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

[holding answer 1 July 2002]: The Government totally condemns the misuse of air weapons and has the deepest sympathy for Tommy Morris and those others who are seriously injured by people who

Violence against a person
19971 1998–992 1999–2000 2000–01
Air weapon offences 7,506 8,665 10,103 10,227
Offences resulting in slight injury 1,065 1,381 1,806 1,654
Offences resulting in serious injury 129 133 171 166
Homicide 1
Attempted murder and other acts (including wounding) endangering life 75 88 80 62
1Calendar year.
2There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998. Crime figures no longer exclude offences where the value of criminal damage is under £20. 75 per cent. of air weapon offences consisted of criminal damage.

The laws concerning air weapons are already very strict, as are the penalties for misuse. We believe that much can be done to improve the situation through the enforcement of existing legislation and public education, and we are at present considering the Firearms Consultative Committee's advice on how this should be taken forward. The shooting associations and the police are already working closely together and have launched a campaign designed to create a greater awareness of the requirements of the law and to emphasise the basic principles of safe and responsible shooting. We believe that this will help to check the rise in criminal damage and to sustain the welcome reduction last year in the total number of injuries.