North Yorkshire Police revoke two shotgun certs after coronavirus rules breach

North Yorkshire Police press release (8 April 2020)


North Yorkshire Police revoked the shotgun certificates of two men who were found to be shooting on land in a rural area near Ripon on the afternoon of Sunday 5 April 2020.

When officers attended, they established that the men were shooting on land where they did not have permission, and in breach of current Coronavirus guidance, as they were not shooting as part of their employment or at the request of the landowner.

[Photo: Getty]

Inspector Andrew Palmer, Head of Firearms Licensing at North Yorkshire Police, said: “I would like to reiterate the advice I have given certificate holders, which is if shooting is part of your work or employment, or it has been specifically requested by a landowner to protect their crops or livestock, then it is permitted.

However, any other shooting that is not part of a business is not essential, and should not be carried out at this time.

We will continue to review any breach on a case-by-case basis – so with that in mind, please follow the advice which is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”


27 thoughts on “North Yorkshire Police revoke two shotgun certs after coronavirus rules breach”

  1. Well done Yorkshire Police on their swift action. Two fewer individuals now roaming with shotguns in a part of the countryside noted for raptor persecution

  2. If they did not have permission to be out shooting why did the police even need emergency legislation to act? Surely it is a serious firearms offence to be wandering around firing shotguns where they are not allowed?
    And, what exactly were these armed men shooting at? Let’s hope the police follow this up rigorously as this seems to be a far worse firearms offense than a simple breach of the coronavirus legislation.

    1. So basically armed trespass then. Coronavirus or not, this should have resulted in quick attendance by a Police firearms unit. Why is it that illegal use of shotguns seems to be regarded as a misdemeanour? I suspect that the certificate revocation will be reversed in hardly any time at all following a suitably sheepish apology by the perps….

    2. Stephen thank you, I thought it was just me.
      Maybe it’s just not worded very well but it does seem that Coronavirus tops wildlife crime.

      1. Indeed Paul. It reads to me as if the police are usually fine with armed men wandering about unless there is a global pandemic on! I also wonder who reported the armed men to the police: the landowner (or a landowner’s lackey), or a member of the public?

      2. Paul et al, I might be misunderstanding where you’re at, but I think it’s inappropriate to compare raptor persecution with a tragic and widespread pandemic. Today the death of Coronavirus patients has exceeded 11,000 human beings in Scotland alone. I fear that if it became known that some conservationists (presumably a minority) believed that the killing of raptors should “top” concerns over Covid-19, surely it could become an unnecessary distraction from the efforts of RPUK? Caution required, in my opinion.

        1. 575 deaths in Scotland.

          Just seems like straightforward armed trespass to me and no real need for the police to mention coronavirus

        2. Hi Iain, I think you indeed are misunderstanding me/us: I’m not saying at all that coronavirus is a lesser evil than raptor persecution. My point was that it seemed a clear breach of existing law(s) so why did the police feel it necessary to revoke the licences under emergency legislation?

          1. Oh, and just to add: surely gun crime IS bloody serious under any circumsatnces? Just imagine if it were two men in a city park with shotguns; would the police feel it necessary then to use emergency legislation then? I think not. It appears that as this crime was committed in a a rural location it was ‘not as bad’. I hope I’m wrong.

    3. ‘If they did not have permission to be out shooting why did the police even need emergency legislation to act? ‘

      The police didn’t need emergency legislation to act. The legislation doesn’t ban shooting, whatever the police might try to imply.

      My guess is that a local heard shooting, regarded it as a breach of the lockdown, reported it to the police, who decided to respond because of the lockdown, and were then able to act because the shooters didn’t have the appropriate permission. If the shooters had had permission, they would have claimed they were taking exercise and that would have been an end to it.

  3. So, given the right circumstances, it is quite easy for North Yorkshire police to revoke a shotgun licence. That is good to know.

    1. I’m no expert. ISTR shotgun licences are issued at the discretion of the Chief Constable and can be removed the same. Perhaps someone can confirm?

  4. Very well done NYP. This is one of the things that’s really worrying under the present circumstances, shooting for whatever purpose, taking place where it might not usually do so. If the wildlife criminals now think they’ve got a fair chance of getting away with it practically anywhere will even nature reserves be entirely safe? There definitely needs to be a public awareness campaign so everyone knows the rights and responsibilities of any gun user. Still too many idiots faffing about with air rifles thinking they can take a pot shot at whatever they want wherever they want. It would be a big help if the public knew this wasn’t the case, one local here did report the car number plate of someone who was in the nearest wood with an air gun. The police turned up at their door and questioned them – they claimed they’d been shooting rabbits (but had been seen aiming into the trees – and the wood has buzzards). The were given a warning and informed shooting on public land is illegal. This needs to happen far more often and greater public knowledge about the laws would help so infringements can be reported.

  5. Good to hear. I trust they’re being prosecuted?

    Section 20 Firearms Act 1968

    (2)A person commits an offence if, while he has a firearm [or imitation firearm] with him, he enters or is on any land as a trespasser and without reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him).

  6. There are a few things to say about this:
    Well done to whoever alerted the Police.
    Well done to the Police for reacting so quickly.
    Well done to the Police for revoking the shotgun licences.
    I hope the two individuals concerned are really, really upset about having their shotgun licences revoked.
    The supreme arrogance of these people who think they can just walk onto anyone’s land with a firearm.
    The supreme ignorance and arrogance of these people who think that the current lockdown does not apply to them.
    The ownership and use of shotguns needs to be much more tightly controlled.
    I have seen a ‘countryside’ type of person driving past me on a quad bike (in Nidderdale), on a public highway, with a shotgun fixed above the handlebars hidden behind a fairing (i.e. not in a bag and not ‘broken’). Why is this allowed? They should not be allowed to get away with it! This is not the wild west but the 21st century!

    1. When I was an angler I was once fishing on the river Ure during a mink hunt and the rifle used to shoot a treed mink about thirty foot from where I sat was left unattended on the river bank, next to a busy footpath. I only found out when an embarrassed hunt member joked with me that he’d forgotten about it as he ran back after about twenty minutes.

  7. Whilst we don’t know the full circumstances of this case, it does beg the question whether people who are stupid enough to trespass on private land and fire shotguns are of sufficient mental capacity to be holders of shotgun certificates.

  8. Iain, a very very definite misunderstanding I do assure you. I’m sure that you can understand that if something is illegal it is illegal, virus or no virus. Perhaps you would be better asking the police why they had to use the virus as an excuse to follow up a crime?

  9. sounds like armed trespass to me, one wonders why that is not what they appear to have been charged with. I suppose the police investigated because of the covid rules but in fact what these to guys were up to is and was illegal anyway. One also wonders what they were shooting on a Sunday.

      1. It does but they can hardly claim to be shooting birds under the General Licence if they haven’t permission to be there. In essence just about anything they have shot is protected as they haven’t that vital permission, even if it were Carrion Crows or Wood Pigeons. Rabbits of course would be classed as poaching

  10. 1. Well done, Yorkshire police.

    2. I suspect that the firearms offence is not related to the Coronavirus legislation. The police may well have been attending in relation to people contravening that legislation then learned that the two miscreants were committing the offence of Trespass on Land with a Firearm.

    3. Possibly the two naughty “boys” have an unsavoury history etc.

    4. Again – well done to the police. Thank you.

  11. Where’s the headline here? Because the police have a reduced workload at present and can prioritise a rural crime being committed and catch the culprits.

    This sort of behaviour goes on day in day out in the countryside, whether it be people with rifles shooting deer from the roadside, people hare coursing or individuals with shotguns taking potshots at whatever takes their fancy.

    Maybe worth bearing in mind that when raptors do turn up dead or injured with shot in them, to consider the wider picture.

    1. On here it is a headline. I don’t recall a report of a previous incident of neds getting their guns removed.

      Yes, you are right about what goes on in the countryside day in and out.

  12. Well done to the police
    I have had shot guns for many years these clowns are dangerous and give law abiding permit holders a
    Bad name
    I was asked many years ago when out shooting , “would you be shooting rabbits if they could shoot at You ”
    I stopped that morning and find it appalling that anyone could shoot any animal .
    Since that day I only shoot clays
    Why not sell there guns for police funds !

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