Police seize 177 guns in Scarborough

2005 Police gun amnesty pic.'Police Operations Support Officer Ron Jones pictured with aome of the handed in firearms, including the Smith and Wesson service revolver that he is holding.'031519. Picture Kevin Allen.
2005 Police gun amnesty pic.'Police Operations Support Officer Ron Jones pictured with aome of the handed in firearms, including the Smith and Wesson service revolver that he is holding.'031519. Picture Kevin Allen.

FIREARMS such as shotguns, handguns and rifles are among 177 guns seized by police from Scarborough’s streets.

According to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request to North Yorkshire police, on average officers impounded more than one gun a week between 2009 and 2011.

“The only people who should have firearms are the police and army,” said Lucy Cope, from Mothers Against Guns, who insisted that the total is too high for a town the size of Scarborough.

She said: “If there’s such a high amount of seized firearms in one small town, imagine if a national check was done? The numbers would be staggering.

She called for a similar investigation to be carried out on a wwnational scale, before adding: “I want a ban on the sale, make and transfer of all firearms in the UK.

“If a government can ban fox hunting, why not ban firearms?”

Despite the seemingly high number of firearms on Scarborough’s streets, North Yorkshire Police say they are winning the war on guns. The figures show a substantial decline in the number of guns seized last year, with the number falling from 80 in 2010 to 46 in 2011.

A police spokeswoman said: “North Yorkshire is one of the safest areas in the country and gun crime is very rare.

“Many of the firearms seizure are for illegally held weapons rather than those which have been used in violent offences. Being a rural county, we have high number of licence holders who have a gun for perfectly legitimate reasons.

Anti-gun campaigners are alarmed by the figures, and have called for stricter controls over the licensing of guns.

Chrissie Hall, founder of the Gun Control Network, called the current laws “not fit for purpose”.

She added: “About half of all gun crime can be attributed to legally held weapons, or weapons that don’t need a license.”

The group are urging the government to implement tighter checks over who guns are handed out too.

Currently prospective gun owners have to complete a rigorous application, aimed at screening out dangerous individuals from owning the weapons.

Gun Control Network are calling for the likely victims of gun crime, such as ex-partners, to be contacted prior to a license being granted.

They alluded to the case of Michael Atherton, who was granted a gun licence, before using his legally obtained shotgun to massacre his family in County Durham on January 2.

A police spokesperson insisted that the licensing procedure is “very stringent”, adding: “It includes visits to premises, medical history, criminal records and storage of weapons among other checks. Any incidents involving a firearm which are reported to North Yorkshire Police are reviewed on a daily basis to ensure compliance with the owner’s licence. In the case of un-licensed weapons, these will automatically be seized.”

The police also highlighted one of the biggest issues they face with firearms, and fired a warning to the public.

“One important message which we repeat as often as we can, is that the majority of spontaneous incidents which involve attendance by armed police officers are as a result of a replica firearm being seen in public.

“Not only do these replicas cause alarm and distress to members of the public, It is worth remembering if you are seen in public with a replica weapon, you could end up being faced with police officers carrying real guns.”

North Yorkshire Police added that the figures released to the Evening News include firearms that were not seized as subject to a crime, for example the non-renewal of a firearms licence or an incident of domestic violence, and as such some firearms may have been returned to the owner if the incident was resolved.

No information was made available regarding the number of guns seized so far in 2012.