Nine-year-old child among 21,743 people issued with shotgun certificates in Norfolk during last five years

Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A nine-year-old child is among those to have been issued a shotgun licence in Norfolk in the last five years.

Graphic by Annette Hudson

Graphic by Annette Hudson - Credit: Archant

New figures from Norfolk Constabulary show 48 children under the age of 14 were issued certificates for 'recreational shooting'.

A total of 21,743 shotgun certificates have been issued in the county in the last five years, including six to children aged 10, seven to children aged 11, 11 certificates to 12-year-olds, and 23 to children aged 13.

There are currently no lower age limits for shotgun licences under UK law, but children under 15 must be supervised by an adult over 21.

Richard Kennett, from Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary's Firearms Unit, said the forces' joint licensing unit had a team of specialist officers who carefully considered each application on an individual basis.

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He said their priority was to ensure the legal, safe and secure possession of firearms, and visits and interviews were conducted with anyone who applied for a certificate.

'Being rural counties, the number of firearm and shotgun certificates issued is larger than some areas in the UK,' said Mr Kennett.

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He added strict Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers guidance was followed in relation to every application.

The new figures were released to Sky News through a Freedom of Information request, and showed the youngest person to be issued a firearms certificate in Norfolk was 14, for the reason of 'target shooting'.

The figures showed that 5,049 firearms certificates were issued, the oldest to a 93 year old for 'vermin'.

In Suffolk, 17,597 shotgun certificates were issued, 10 to children aged 11, and a total of 61 shotgun certificates were issued to children under the age of 14.

Damian Green, the minister of state for policing and criminal justice said in the 2014 Home Office Guidance on Firearm Licensing Law, the subject of ownership of firearms was a sensitive issue.

He said the vast majority of 620,000 shotgun licence holders would responsibly use their firearms for work and leisure with only a small minority of legally-held firearms being misused.

He said: 'I believe that the ownership of any firearm is a privilege and not a right, and that public safety must be paramount.'

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