THE POLICING & CRIME ACT 2017
May 2015 saw a sea change in the UK’s political landscape when the Conservative Party won a resounding victory in the general Election.
Previous Governments had been reluctant to introduce any new, primary, firearms legislation. The last significant piece of Primary legislation was the Violent Crime Reduction Act in 2006. The shooting community had been lobbying for changes over many years and was frustrated at the lack of any understanding for much needed updates and changes. Much of the legislation came from the various ‘knee jerk’ bolt-ons to the 1968 Act and was, to say the least, behind the times and did not recognise the vast changes in technology which heralded the 21st Century.
The Home Office, shortly after the Election, commissioned the Law Commission to review the Firearms Acts and look at the possibility of re-writing (Codification), the entire 34 pieces of legislation into one updated and manageable Firearms Act. The Law Commission was well engaged in the process and all of us involved were confident that, with Government support, were well on the way to a new a better Act.
Then there were the atrocities in Paris and Belgium and, in November 2015, we were hit by the proposed new EU Firearms Directive and an EU Regulation on de-activated firearms. All of this rather overtook the Law Commission’s progress. Nonetheless the Home Office cherry picked some of the main points from the Law Commission’s Report and, in February 2016, published the draft of the Policing & Crime Bill.
This Bill gave us all enough scope to start the re-writing process and really proved that the Government was listening to the shooting community. Clauses included: a new definition of firearm (‘lethal barrelled weapon’), a definition of airsoft guns, a new definition of antique firearms, a comprehensive definition of component parts (at last!), the reduction to Section1 of virtually all Section 5 expanding ammunition, the clarification of ‘possessing tools to convert’ imitation firearms, the possibility of an 8 week extension on renewal of Firearms Certificates, the clarification of the term ‘Occupier’, greater clarification on Home Office Guidance on Firearms law and the need for Chief Officers to have ‘regard’ to this when in Court and (unfortunately), the possibility of new fees.
All in all a remarkable package. The GTA has been lobbying for the changes to expanding ammunition for almost a decade and other shooting Associations had been insisting on changes to the definition of ‘Occupier’ for the same long period of time.
Then as often happens, we were overtaken by events; namely the Referendum, and everything was put on hold and Codification was abandoned for this Parliament.
Nevertheless the Policing & Crime Act, which has now received Royal Assent and should be Commenced sometime in the Spring, is a major step forward for us and we recognise the difference that a new Government can make.
The pages below carry the detail of the Act and the various Sections. Some Sections will come into force later than others through Secondary legislation and we will keep members informed of progress as it happens.
Please click on the links below to see the text of each Section:
Further Sections, 126 (Firearms Act 1968: meaning of “antique firearm”), 131 (Limited extension of firearms certificates etc.) and 132 (Applications under the Firearms Acts: fees) will be commenced at a later date following further consultation.