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Eight-year-old granted shotgun licence by West Midlands Police

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

An eight-year-old child is one of 70 under 18s granted shotgun licences by West Midlands Police in the last five years.

It is believed this child is one of the youngest in the UK to hold a shotgun licence.

The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request show that so far this year nine shotgun licences have been granted to under 18s - including the one for the eight-year-old. It is the only shotgun licence West Midlands Police have issued to a child under 10 in the past five years.

No application for a shotgun licence in this period has been rejected.

Brett Oakes, from the Firearms Licensing Unit, said: "Firearms licences are granted to under 18s for the sport of shooting.

"Young people in certain circumstances are required to be supervised by a person over 21 years of age.

"If a young person wants a firearms certificate they have to make an application to the police and this must be countersigned by their parent or guardian.

"They are then subject to a personal interview in the presence of that parent or guardian. In addition thorough conviction and intelligence checks are made in respect of the applicant and close family members.

"The young person's suitability is assessed on the basis of their training, maturity, knowledge and proficiency. The person or persons nominated to supervise and guide the young person is also subject to scrutiny regarding their suitability and competency. Only those people who are subsequently deemed suitable are issued with certificates."

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West Midlands Police recorded 513 gun crime incidents between April 2014 and March 2015 and Labour councillor Stephen Simkins, who represents the Bilston East ward and also sits on the health scrutiny panel, said he was concerned about people having access to firearms at such a young age.

He said:"This is startling. I'm stunned.I have signed shotgun licences for many people in the past who I have known for a long time but I am shocked that the police would issue these licences to children.

"Who can predict the future to see if these children who have been granted the licences are going to grow up and cause trouble?

"We don't exactly have a gun culture in Britain, but as I say I am shocked the police have issued licences to children."

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West Midlands Police are not the only police force to have handed out a shotgun licence to a child of such a young age.

Earlier this year an investigation revealed that police forces in Kent, Lancashire, Sussex and Devon and Cornwall had also handed out licences to eight-year-olds.

It also revealed that over the last five years, more than 670 children under-14 were granted licences.

There is no minimum age for applying for a shotgun certificate in the UK, with the chief constable of each force deciding whether to issue the licence.

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