HC Deb 22 July 2004 vol 424 cc572-3W
Mr. Hoban

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the number of airguns which should have been licensed by 30 April but for which no application has been received; [179584]

(2) what discretion is available to the police to grant a licence to an individual who possessed an airgun prior to 30 April and subsequently makes an application; and in what circumstances that discretion may be exercised; [179585]

(3) how many late applications the police have received for air gun licences; and in how many cases (a) a licence has been granted and (b) the gun has been confiscated by the police and destroyed. [179586]

Caroline Flint

[holding answer 21 June 2004]We estimate that between 50,000 and 70,000 self-contained gas cartridge guns have been sold in the UK. Not all will still be in circulation but because they were not previously subject to control it is not possible to say how many might have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of before the new laws came into effect. I understand from the Association of Chief Police Officers that as at 30 April a total 5,791 guns had been entered on certificate and a further 1,524 had been surrendered for destruction. Separate information on the number of late applications is not available. It is for the police to determine in individual cases whether the circumstances warrant acceptance of a late application. Owners have already had over three months in which to either surrender their guns or apply for a certificate. Those who have failed to do so are committing an offence although the Association of Chief Police Officers have advised that where somebody voluntarily comes forward to surrender a gun which they have only just learned has been banned, it will often be sufficient to seize the gun and not to prosecute.

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