The Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO), the body that represents senior police officers in the United Kingdom, has begun a campaign to send police to enter the homes of legal gun owners to snoop on them. Many of those who may receive visits cannot understand why they would be targeted and suspect it is to discourage gun ownership in Britain.
The Countryside Alliance pressure group fears that the new initiative will target ordinary members of the public, and is due to begin on Wednesday, 15th October. The group has launched a campaign to alert Members of Parliament to the issue. The policy is also the latest in a series of ‘power grabs’ by ACPO, which is effectively a trade union, but regularly demands executive powers with little accountability to the public.
On its campaign website the Countryside Alliance said: “Legitimate gun owners are always ready to support sensible, evidence based proposals to improve firearm licensing and security. For instance we fully support unannounced checks on license holders based on specific intelligence on risk.
“This campaign, however, is exactly the sort of knee-jerk reaction to an unrelated problem the Government had promised to avoid. It is unjustified and ill-judged, and it will serve only to waste police resources and alienate a large and law abiding section of the community.”
Chief Constable Andy Marsh told ShootingUK: “The public and especially the shooting community can greatly assist the police in gathering intelligence and protecting our communities by being vigilant around firearms licensing.
“The shooting community is close, and will recognise sudden behavioural changes in fellow shooters that could cause concerns. However, they may not feel like they can act and the Crimestoppers hotline empowers people to voice concerns anonymously.”
He added: “If you are concerned that guns are being kept insecurely or notice signs that shooters may be vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups or have shown sympathy towards extremist acts, please report it.”
In the past members of ACPO have publicly campaigned for tighter gun control, despite the rules that British police are supposed to be politically neutral. Earlier this year Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy publicly rebuked UKIP leader Nigel Farage after he suggested hand gun regulations were too tough.
Fahy said: “We should all be grateful that we have got such tight gun control in this country – when you look at the States, it’s awful over there.”
This article originally stated that the police operation had already targeted a number of individuals, based on information from external sources. The operation indeed did not start until Wednesday, 15th October, and ACPO says that no one has yet been targeted.