Hi Everyone, I am a new member here. I am an active pensioner farmer in Scotland but no longer a member of BASC. I am not sure who to turn to for qualified advice but this seems the best place. I no longer shoot for sport but I do need my gun and rifles for vermin control on the farm. I regard them as necessary tools of trade, like a chain saw or a tractor, and when I need them, I need them!
Four police officers arrived at my door in early October stating that they were seizing my guns because they'd received a complaint about my suitability to hold them. They assured me they would be returned when their enquiries were complete. I was asked to sign a form which the police said they would be taking away with them. I was assured that it was just a receipt. That alerted my suspcions as if anyone needs a receipt, it should be me! On closer examination, I discovered they were asking me to sign a form agreeing to the permanent surrender of my guns and to their destruction! So be warned! After three tries, the police have still not supplied me with a proper receipt. The last 'receipt' is headed "Received from Chief Constable, Police Scotland, etc" which I am sure I don't need to explain is not correct. It is the police who have received the guns, not me! The guns are of no commercial value but I do need them, so I let this go and put it down to their stupidity rather than duplicity.
OK, a few vital statistics. I am in my 70s and I've held an open FAC for 58 years. I shot my first fallow buck at 18 and have shot plenty of roe and reds since. I was a registered firearms dealer for a few years, ran a successful sporting agency for North Sea oil personnel, participated in the management of several large Scottish sporting estates, etc. etc. I have a clean criminal record and was a land management professional (chartered land agent). I drink sparingly and am of sound mind. If I mentioned my name, some of the older members on here would probably recognise it!
The first thing I did was to refer the matter to my solicitor. Things seemed to be going in the right direction as she was communicating with senior police officers on a first name basis. Nearly three months on and, frustrated by the lack of progress, I suggested that she should write to the chief constable. I got no reply. I left this for a couple of weeks and wrote again. No reply. My confidence in this solicitor has now evapourated. Still no reply after a month. Far too pally with the police, is my thinking, to be of any use as I may still want to bring an action for being deprived on my guns, also for the malicious complaint.
I have done my research and understand the police must follow guidelines in handling these matters. They haven't. I still do not know the nature of the complaint or who made it. I have not been kept up to date with 'progress'. (What progress?). Frankly, Police Scotland seems to be a shambles.
What does make me suspcious is that I have a relatively new neighbour who seems to be well connected. He is the person guilty of what I see as a breach of planning law. Discussions are still going on with the planning department. I cannot say relations with my neighbour have been amicable. His is rather fond of stating "It's my land and I'll do what I want on it" and doesn't seem to understand the unwritten rules of living in the country. I phoned the police to see if anything could be done about his latest clay pigeon shoot just over the fence from my heavily pregnant mares. The firearm officer was surprisingly confrontational as I have always got on well with the local police. I wondered then whether he and my neighbour (a keen shooter) were perhaps mates.The seizure of my guns followed soon after this conversation, so it is possible. I did spend two nights in hospital following a dizzy spell, but the cause was a suspected infection of the inner ear or possibly a minor stroke, and nothing serious. I was out in a couple of days and am fine now. No doubt this could be blown out of all proportion by someone with a malicious imagination -- but my doctor could clarify the matters if asked. She hasn't been. A nurse who visited here every day to attend to a horse thought it hilarious that someone might be suggesting that I was a homicidal maniac.
On the other hand, I have heard where there is a dispute over a planning matter, both parties have their guns seized as routine. I don't know whether that is true but I would accept that. But I would still expect the police to make further inquiries. But if the seizure of the guns was prompted under the "Old Pals' Act" by a serving police officer acting to oblige someone making malicious inferences, that is another matter.
So, wise people, what do I do next? I spoke to my friendly game dealer this evening who was outraged to hear how I'd been treated. Can I find out what the grounds for the complaint are and who made it? Perhaps under the Freedom of Information Act? And what do I do next? I sent a letter to the inspector today simply asking for an update. I gather it is better to say less than more in these situations.
Thanks for reading!