Cops ‘prepared’ for airgun licensing workload

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A senior officer has insisted Police Scotland will be able to cope with any increased workload caused by the licensing of airguns. There has been a cut in the number of dedicated firearms licensing officers ahead of new controls.

But Asst Ch Con Mark Williams said much of the extra work would be undertaken by community officers who have been given additional training.

An amnesty has been launched to allow owners to surrender their airguns. The Air Weapon and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 comes into force from 31 December 2016.

Mr Williams told the BBC: “There’s been a number of dedicated firearms licensing officers in the past.

“What we’ve done in recent months is train community officers that work right across Scotland who will also be able to handle the application process for licensing any weapon.”

Police are launching an airgun amnesty ahead of new laws which make it illegal to possess one without a licence.

Seventy-two police stations across Scotland will be accepting the weapons during the three-week campaign from 23 May until 12 June.

Powers to legislate on air rifles were devolved to Holyrood in 2012. The cost of the new airgun license has still to be announced but the British Association of Shooting and Conservation said it expects it to be less than the £79.50 shotgun licence.

It has been estimated there could be 500,000 airguns in Scotland but Asst Ch Con Williams said he was confident his officers could cope with large numbers being given up.

He added: “We’re certainly prepared for the surrender process and we’re prepared with officers and staff across Scotland to manage that and we’ve trained a number of extra staff to cope with any uplift in demand around the licensing itself.”

Dog walker

Ahead of the amnesty being launched, the victim of a recent airgun injury has been speaking about his experience.

Jordan Fyfe was shot while walking his dog in Glasgow.

He said: “I pulled my dog round the corner and saw I’d been shot in the leg. It was embedded in the back of my knee although at that point I didn’t know it was still in there.”

Mr Fyfe added: “I went home phoned the police and then went to the Royal Infirmary and had an X-ray.

“The next day at half past nine I was in theatre getting it removed under general anaesthetic.”

Mr Fyfe said he was lucky to have the pellet removed without any complications.

Public opposition

The campaign to tighten airgun controls gathered momentum after the death of toddler Andrew Morton in Glasgow in 2005. He was shot in the head by a drug addict.

Police Scotland said advice on how to transport the weapons safely, and to find out where the nearest designation station was, could be found on their website.

The Scottish government ran a public consultation on the licensing scheme in 2013.

The idea was rejected by 87% of respondents – with some describing it as “draconian” and “heavy-handed”.

But the Scottish government said it was committed to licensing air guns and was looking for views on how this would work in practice.

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