Thousands of illegal guns and weapons seized by Norfolk Police under “robust” rules
- Credit: Steve Adams
Every day at least one illegal firearm on average is taken off the streets of Norfolk as figures reveal thousands of weapons were seized by police.
The force has said they have 'robust' processes in place to ensure deadly weapons do not get into the wrong hands, and local suppliers say they work closely with Norfolk Constabulary under strict guidance.
Close to 3,000 prohibited firearms including rifles, air guns and shotguns were seized in the county between 2011 and 2016, with just over 400 of those not destroyed but retained by the force.
On a handful of occasions in that time, weapons reported to police as having been discharged include long barrelled shotguns, air weapons, nail guns and sawn off shotguns.
In addition dozens of illegal guns have been reported as lost or stolen since 2011 - more than 100 in the five year period.
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David Edwards, of Churchills Ltd gun shop in Dereham, said guns are common place in Norfolk as a rural county.
He said they sell between 300 and 400 shotguns and rifles each year, adding police put in place rigorous checks before issuing certificates.
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'You have to justify yourself to a firearms enquiries officer that you are buying a gun for a legitimate reason,' he said. 'You have to be competent and prove you have done nothing wrong in the past.
'Most of our clientele work on the land or are farmers - or do a lot of clay pigeon shooting. Norfolk is a very rural county and that is what our customers tend to be. If someone were to come in with a weapon they shouldn't have we would lock it in the back of the shop and call the police - but that has never happened before.'
A police spokeswoman stressed Norfolk is 'a very safe county'.
'Fortunately the level of crime involving firearms is relatively low. It is worth noting seizures made under Section 5 of the Firearms Act include irritant sprays (such as pepper or CS) and stun guns.
'We have a robust process in place in relation to firearms licences and will pro-actively seize items if holders breach their licence or upon review it's found they are no longer fit to hold such a licence.
'In relation to crime, naturally these figures will fluctuate from year to year depending on incidents. We have armed officers on patrol in the county 24/7 to the meet the armed threat within our own risk assessment process.'
Haul of firearms seized from Brundall home
A 62-year-old man with a 'fascination for firearms' was jailed for three years in May after police seized more than 70 illegal guns and live ammunition from his Brundall home.
Former nurse and care worker Michael Cook was arrested after police searched his home on Holmesdale Road on May 16 last year and uncovered a 'vast array' of handguns and rifles, including a Browning 9mm and Smith and Wesson 0.5mm, both loaded with live ammunition.
Cook had admitted six offences, including possessing a prohibited firearm and a prohibited rifled gun, on February 8. At Norwich Crown Court he asked for a further 69 offences relating to firearms and ammunition to be taken into consideration.
Steven Dyble, mitigating for Cook, said: 'His acquisition of these weapons was down to this developing, almost obsessive interest in firearms. The weapons in fact are really an historical chronology of the development of revolvers in the 20th century.'
Man sparked manhunt after firing shotgun in Dereham
A man who sparked a 14-hour armed police manhunt in Dereham in December 2014 after firing two shots into the air has been jailed for five and a half years.
Armed officers, a police helicopter and police dogs searched Dereham in a bid to find John Parkinson, 28, who had been seen carrying a single barrel shotgun.
Norwich Crown Court heard in March 2015 that Parkinson, of Suffolk Place, Toftwood, had told a neighbour that he was 'going to kill someone' in the evening of December 3, 2014, before firing the shots outside his home and leaving in the back of a van.
Parkinson admitted eight charges including possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, carrying a firearm in public and breaching a restraining order.
He was given the minimum possible five year sentence for use or threat with a firearm, with Recorder David Pugh describing the incident as 'more bravado than intent'.