Home / Resources / Plymouth Shooting Inquests – Prevention of Future Deaths reports issued to 48 recipients, including the Home Secretary, all Chief Constables in England & Wales, and the Lord Chief Justice
Plymouth Shooting Inquests – Prevention of Future Deaths reports issued to 48 recipients, including the Home Secretary, all Chief Constables in England & Wales, and the Lord Chief Justice
Senior Coroner Ian Arrow has issued five thematic Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) reports to a total of 48 recipients, following the conclusion of the inquests into the Plymouth mass shooting last month. Dominic Adamson KC and Juliet Wells represented the families of the members of the public killed in the shootings, instructed by Patrick Maguire of HCC Solicitors.
The recipients of the PFD reports include the Home Secretary, all 43 Chief Constables in England & Wales, and the Lord Chief Justice. The number of recipients is virtually unprecedented, and it is thought to be the first time a PFD report has been sent to all Chief Constables simultaneously, or to the Lord Chief Justice.
The reports make wide-ranging recommendations across a number of areas, including:
- That there should be “root and branch reform” of firearms legislation. The Coroner expressed the view that the Firearms Act 1968 is out of date and not fit for purpose, and contributes to a situation which endangers public safety.
- That the Home Office’s statutory guidance on firearms licensing, as currently framed, is “at best confusing and at worst misleading”. Its suggestion that licensing staff should not take into account allegations which have not been proved on the balance of probabilities, when deciding whether an applicant is suitable to hold a firearm, is “premised on a misunderstanding of the underlying legal position”.
- That there is an urgent need to develop and maintain a national accredited training regime for licensing staff. The Coroner noted that this recommendation has been made on numerous occasions since the Dunblane massacre, but that “over the past 27 years, there has been an abject failure” by successive governments to implement it.
- That the Lord Chief Justice should ensure that adequate training on firearms licensing is made available to Crown Court judges as a matter of urgency, and that only judges who have undergone this training should be authorised to hear appeals against licensing decisions under s.44 of the 1968 Act.
- That all 43 Chief Constables in England & Wales should carry out an urgent review of cases where a person currently holds a gun which has been returned to them after an earlier refusal or seizure by the police. There is a concern that in many cases, individuals who pose a danger to the public may be in possession of firearms which have been returned to them following an inadequate risk assessment.
- That there should be a mandatory requirement to place a warning marker on all medical records, not just GP records, so that health professionals can contact the police whenever a certificate holder reports symptoms (particularly mental health symptoms) that might affect their suitability to possess a gun.
- That application fees should be set at a level which adequately funds the whole of the firearms licensing system. The inquest heard evidence that at present, the taxpayer subsidises most of the cost of firearms licensing, with the resulting risk that licensing departments are routinely underfunded.
The full PFD reports are available via the link below.
This case has received extensive press coverage: