Opinion Former Article

BASC: firearms team gets caution revoked for member

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has helped one of its members get his antique firearms back after convincing a chief constable to revoke the man's police caution.

It all started when BASC member Ron Holding found himself caught up in a North Wales police investigation into illegal firearms possessed by a small number of members of a local shooting club.

The police arrived at his house with a warrant to search for illegal guns. As he was not at home, they wrecked his gun cabinets and took away all of his certificated guns as well as some antiques.

Things went quiet after that and despite numerous calls to the case officer and his superior nothing else was heard. Eventually after BASC complained, Mr Holding was invited to attend a police station for interview concerning possession of a 7.5mm Swiss Model 1889 Schmidt-Rubin rifle. This rifle is universally regarded as an antique and is on the Home Office list. Our advice to Mr Holding was to ask for a copy of any forensic advice, to take a solicitor and not to accept a caution if one was offered.

During the interview, Mr Holding was not shown a copy of the expert advice which suggested that the rifle was not an antique because it could fire a modern cartridge. He felt so pressurised by the whole business that he unwisely accepted a caution thinking that would be the end of the matter. A caution is a serious business because it is an admission of guilt. Once accepted, it can have dire consequences for gun ownership as it suggests that the person is a law-breaker.

Through diligent research, BASC firearms officer Alan Booth discovered that a chief constable could revoke a caution in certain limited circumstances so BASC's chief executive John Swift met chief constable of North Wales, Richard Brunstrom. Mr Brunstrom eventually agreed that a caution was not appropriate in the circumstances and it was revoked.

Director of Firearms, Bill Harriman, said: "The joy on Mr Holding's face when I returned his rifle will be with me for a long time to come. The police are under great pressure to achieve Home Office targets these days and a caution may be a quick fix for an over-worked cop drowning in paperwork. Don't accept one without proper legal advice because you may come to regret it later."

ENDS

For more information please contact the BASC press office on 01244 573031

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