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Firearms Owners Urged To Ensure Guns Are Secure

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8:29am 14th October 2014

Dorset Police will be turning up at people's homes unannounced on Wednesday to see if firearms owners are storing their guns correctly.

Over the last 5 years 3,296 firearms and shotguns have been reported lost or stolen in England and Wales.

Dorset Police is taking part in a national campaign to make sure lost guns don't end up in the hands of criminals.

From Wednesday 15 October 2014, Dorset Police will be carrying out unannounced home visits where there are concerns about security and risk.

Members of the shooting community and the general public are being encouraged to call a new dedicated Crimestoppers phone line - 0800 028 4010 - to report any concerns about legally held firearms.

Chief Inspector Debbie Marsden, Operations Support at Dorset Police, said: "A lost or stolen firearm could end up in the hands of criminals who would pose a clear threat to the public. This is why Dorset Police is supporting this campaign to ensure that the highest standards of security and safety around firearms are upheld.

"We continually work with gun owners and this campaign helps to widen this engagement with the whole of the shooting community and public.

"Certificate holders who are clearly not complying with security measures may have their certificates revoked. However, this is the last resort and, where appropriate, support and advice will be provided."

National Policing Lead for Firearms and Explosives Licensing, Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: "Our aim is not to catch out gun owners, which is why we are giving notice that unannounced visits will be taking place.

"We want to work together with the shooting community to promote and engage gun owners about security, crime prevention and, where appropriate, give advice. I know that the vast majority of gun owners understand their responsibility to secure firearms and in the main take this very seriously, allowing their continued lawful use for work or leisure purposes."

Specific security advice can be found on the Home Office website - www.gov.uk/firearms-licensing-police-guidance.

Chief Constable Marsh said: "The public and especially the shooting community can greatly assist the police in gathering intelligence and protecting our communities by being vigilant around firearms licensing. The shooting community is close, and will recognise sudden behavioural changes in fellow shooters that could cause concerns. However, they may not feel like they can act and the Crimestoppers hotline empowers people to voice concerns anonymously.

"If you are concerned that guns are being kept insecurely or notice signs that shooters may be vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups or have shown sympathy towards extremist acts, please report it. I recognise the shooting community as a whole is law abiding and engaging, and I wish to protect the reputation and continued lawful use of firearms."

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: "The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world and I am determined to keep it that way. This campaign is an important reminder to certificate holders that it is essential that firearms and ammunition are stored securely and safely and kept out of criminal hands.

"I would also encourage the public to report any concerns they have about firearms licence holders to the new, dedicated Crimestoppers helpline."

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