15 August 2021

Police forces asked to review gun application processes in wake of Keyham deaths

15 August 2021

Police forces in England and Wales are being asked to review their current firearm application processes in the wake of the Plymouth mass shooting, the Government has announced.

Questions are continuing to mount over how Keyham gunman Jake Davison, 22, obtained a firearms licence and carried out his spree, killing five people before turning the gun on himself.

The Government said on Sunday evening that it was preparing statutory guidance to help ensure higher standards of decision-making for police firearms licensing applications.

This will cover social media checks of those applying for permission to own a firearm or shotgun, according to the Home Office.

All police forces in England and Wales are now being asked to assess whether they need to revisit any existing licences.

Undated screengrab of Jake Davison (Jake Davison/PA) (PA Media)

It comes after a former Metropolitan Police chief said officers should trawl through online accounts of people applying for firearms licences to ensure that “guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous people”.

Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate”, as well as an interest in guns and the US.

A Home Office source said: “Incidents such as Thursday’s horrific events in Plymouth are thankfully rare, but their impact is profound, not only on those directly affected but on the public as a whole.

“We constantly assess what sensible and proportionate steps we can take to help prevent such terrible loss of life happening again.

“We are bringing forward new guidance to improve how people applying for a firearms licence are assessed in future, including social media checks.

“But today, as a matter of urgency, we are asking the police to review their practices and whether any existing licences need to be looked at again.

“This will help reassure people that all necessary checks have been made to keep them safe.”

Tributes left in the Keyham area of Plymouth (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

An investigation is already under way by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence.

It will look at why Devon and Cornwall Police returned his gun and firearms permit to him last month after it was removed following an allegation of assault in September last year.

Former Scotland Yard commissioner Lord Stevens told The Sunday Telegraph that Davison was “clearly a dangerous man”, adding: “The videos he made should have been taken into account when he applied for a shotgun licence.

“There needs to be a trawling of online content for an in-depth assessment of who these people are and what they think.”

A public consultation was carried out by the Government in 2019 before the first publication of the statutory guidance, resulting in over 11,000 responses.

The statutory guidance and responses to the public consultation are due to be published in the coming weeks.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox