225 guns seized as cops cancel licences

Southend Standard: Firm line – Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh Firm line – Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh

HUNDREDS of firearms have been seized after a review of gun licences in Essex.

The force looked into who holds gun licences and confiscated them from people they consider may be a danger.

The controversial move will anger some because some of the people they have been removed from have not been convicted of a crime.

But Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh insisted it is the right thing to do.

He firmly believes it is better to take the risk of facing litigation from a gun licence holder, than to leave a gun in the possession of someone who the force doesn’t think should have one anymore.

He said: “We have 225 firearms in safe keeping while we look to revoke licenses.

“People will challenge us, but policing is not just about acting after incidents, but acting proactively.

“Nineteen have been taken from people involved in high risk domestic abuse and 14 others have been surrendered already.

“The 225 taken relate to all crime, including domestic violence.

We are never going to reduce the risk totally, but this is a very positive step.”

In 2012 Essex Police took firearms from a gun owner in Braintree after he was involved in a violent rowwith his wife.

Speaking at the time, Sir John Thomas, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, said: “It is overwhelmingly in the public interest the tightest control is exercised over those who possess firearms.”

The Chief Constable has the power to remove and revoke licences which is a power Mr Kavanagh is keen to exercise.

To get a license, police have to consider the person suitable.

For them to be revoked, a force needs to identify and assess a risk.

Officers can then seize the weapons and hold them while the process of formally revoking them begins.

Those whose guns are seized can appeal. Reasons for seizure include concerns a person is no longer fit to be entrusted with a firearm, or is a danger to public safety, no longer has good reason to have one, or is otherwise unsuitable.

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