Devon and Cornwall Police renew gun licences after '15-minute call'

Revealed: How Plymouth force that returned shotgun to incel killer renews its gun licences after ’15-minute call’

  • Force at centre of Jake Davison killings renews shotgun licences over the phone 
  • Calls take as little as ten to 15 minutes and are done every five years, it’s claimed 
  • Davison killed his mother before shooting dead four more people last Thursday
  • More than half a million licensed gun owners to face tough new checks by police

The police force at the centre of the Jake Davison killings renews shotgun licences over the phone in calls which take as little as ten to 15 minutes, it was claimed today.

Phone calls from Devon and Cornwall Police staff – thought to be civilians – are said to be made to shotgun holders who must get their licence renewed every five years.

A man from Exeter who has held a shotgun licence for around 45 years revealed how the process works, four days after Davison murdered five people in Plymouth.

Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine Davison, 51, at a house before he went into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43.

In the 12-minute attack last Thursday, Davison then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting Kate Shepherd, 66, who later died in hospital.

Jake Davison killed five people in Plymouth last Thursday before turning the gun on himself

Davison killed his mother Maxine Davison, 51, at a house at the start of his murderous rampage 

Davison went into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, 3, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43

Today, a man named David, who is 68 and from Exeter, said he has held a shotgun licence for around 45 years and got his first licence when he was aged 22.

This is the same age as Davison when he shot himself last week. David, who does not want his full name to be used, said: ‘The police have not done their job properly.

Every gun licence to be reviewed: 560,000 facing new checks and scrutiny of social media in wake of atrocity 

More than half a million licensed gun owners will face tough new checks by police in the wake of the Plymouth massacre.

The Home Secretary will order police forces across England and Wales to introduce more stringent background vetting – including reviews of social media posts – in a bid to weed out unstable applicants.

It comes amid concern that Devon and Cornwall Police appeared to be unaware of gunman Jake Davison’s hate-fuelled online rants. 

The force’s chief constable, Shaun Sawyer, said at the weekend that officers do not look at social media when someone applies for a gun licence because it would be ‘an invasion of privacy’.

Davison, 22, was stripped of his shotgun licence in December after being involved in an altercation – but it was handed back in July. Within a few weeks he launched his killing spree, murdering five innocent people including a three-year-old girl.

Sources said a compulsory checklist for issuing gun licences will be handed to chief constables later this year.

In addition, forces will be asked to carry out an immediate review of procedures. It means all 566,000 holders of firearms or shotgun certificates in England and Wales will face additional security checks – although the timescale had yet to be confirmed last night.

‘We are bringing forward new guidance to improve how people applying for a firearms licence are assessed in future, including social media checks,’ a Home Office source said. ‘But, as a matter of urgency, we are asking the police to review their practices and whether any existing licences need to be looked at again.

‘This will help reassure people that all necessary checks have been made to keep them safe.’

The source added: ‘Incidents such as Thursday’s horrific events in Plymouth are thankfully rare, but their impact is profound, not only on those directly affected but on the public as a whole.

‘We constantly assess what sensible and proportionate steps we can take to help prevent such terrible loss of life happening again.’ 

‘A telephone interview for a renewal is wrong. I am really against that. Someone coming around gets a feel for a person, where they live, how they dress, and can tell by someone’s reaction if they are lying – you can’t do that on a phone.’

He added that people need one referee to support their application for a shotgun licence. David said: ‘Someone must have acted as a referee for Davison. If they knew him that well to be a referee what were they doing? 

‘How old was Davison when he got his first shotgun licence because the police would have had to have met him the first time? He may have been 16 which is the youngest age, but would need parental or guardian backing, so he could have had his renewal over the phone when he was 21.’

The cost of a renewal is £49 and David said that is payable to the local police force.

David said that, previously, former police officers working for the force would come around to the gun holder’s home and spend half an hour talking to them and inspecting their weapons and storage cabinets.

He said: ‘They would ask searching questions about why you wanted a shotgun, what you intended to do with it, where you intended to use it.

‘They would check to see you were a fit and proper person to have a shotgun and check on your well being and relationships, where you were living and where the weapons were kept.’

David said he has not had a home inspection from an ex-officer for ten years because that has been replaced with a telephone call every five years.

He continued: ‘They make an appointment with you and ask a few questions. But it is not face to face. Then they say ‘we will let you know’.

‘They can speak to your GP about any medication you are taking or if you are suffering with depression or anxiety – but I have no idea if they have checked anything with my GP.

‘These renewals are every five years which is fine by me. But I accept that a lot can change in five years and perhaps this should be reduced to three years.

‘But I don’t think the police have the resources to cope with this now. So I think this may be impractical. I know someone who applied for a shotgun licence for the first time in January and they are still waiting to hear about a home inspection even now.’

David said there should be a face-to-face inspection when someone applies the first time for a shotgun licence – but not for renewals.

He continued: ‘It’s somewhat ironic that Devon and Cornwall Police admitted they did not check the internet for Jake Davison’s social media which was very blatantly out there but are happy to use the internet for shotgun renewals.

‘They are obviously getting a lot more done sitting behind a desk talking to someone on a phone. But face to face is completely different because you can look at the way someone behaves and their facial motions if they are not being truthful.

Davison also shot and murdered dog walker Stephen Washington, 59, last Thursday evening

Kate Shepherd, 66, was Davison’s final victim and was shot dead by a hair salon in Plymouth

People take part in a minute’s silence outside Plymouth Guildhall today in memory of the five people who were killed by gunman Davison last Thursday

‘I personally don’t use social media very much. But it seems a good idea to check on this in this day and age. If you are open and honest and have broken no laws there is nothing to worry about.

Treat incel ideology like terrorism, urge experts 

Twisted followers of the ‘involuntary celibate’ movement should face counter-terrorism style investigations, experts said last night.

There were calls to introduce urgent measures to combat the threat posed by women-hating ‘incels’, amid claims they have up to 10,000 sympathisers in Britain.

Former chief crown prosecutor for northwest England, Nazir Afzal, said treating the misogynistic ideology as terrorism would open new avenues for police investigations. 

‘That kind of extreme misogyny of the type we have seen here and in terms of the incel community is a threat to all women and, ultimately, to all our communities.

‘If you treat it as terrorism then you have other options open to you in terms of intelligence gathering, in terms of being able to prosecute for disseminating materials, in terms of being able to hold them to account if they are conspiring with each other,’ he told the Sunday Express. 

He added that police should have flagged Jake Davison on a ‘watch list’ – such was the extreme nature of his public comments on violence towards women. 

Callum Hood, of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, told the Sunday Times: ‘There’s no question in our minds that this is a radicalising community. This should be a wake-up call that online misogyny is not an online only problem.’

But Sam Armstrong, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said incels did not fall within the legal definition of terrorism because they were not attempting to advance a political belief.

‘The forms you have to fill in include relevant medical conditions, convictions and offences, so another sheet on use of social media could help weed out people who should not be given gun licences.’

The Government has announced firearms applicants will be subject to social media checks. 

Questions are continuing to mount over how Davison, who took his own life after the shooting spree, was able to obtain a firearms licence.

All police forces in England and Wales are being asked to review their current firearm application processes, as well as assess whether they need to revisit any existing licences.

Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with ‘incel’ culture, meaning ‘involuntary celibate’, as well as an interest in guns and the US.

A spokesman for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) told MailOnline today: ‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who lost their lives and those impacted by this devastating incident in Plymouth.

‘With the investigation ongoing, it is essential that the emergency services and authorities are given the time and space to establish the full facts. Actions taken before the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) inquest is complete would be predetermining the outcome.

‘The UK has some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world, such tragic incidents remain extremely rare. 

‘BASC’s priority is to see a balanced and consistent licensing approach between the 43 licensing authorities in England and Wales. Social media checks are already done by many constabularies when processing applications. 

‘The Government’s assurance that this will be done in the case of all certificate holders coming to the notice of the police is sensible and should be welcomed.’

It comes as there was a heartfelt plea for change as hundreds gathered in Plymouth to pay their respects to those killed in one of the UK’s worst mass shootings.

Civic leaders, religious figures, politicians, emergency service workers and the military joined around 200 people outside the Guildhall in Plymouth city centre to hold a one minute’s silence.

They gathered to mourn and reflect on last week’s devastating events when gunman Davison launched his murderous spree in the Keyham area of the city. 

Police stand outside a house in Plymouth today after five people were killed on Thursday

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Devon and Cornwall Police chief Shaun Sawyer look at the tributes in Plymouth on Saturday

Addressing the mourners outside the Guildhall, Keyham community leader Kevin Sproston said: ‘The solidarity, love and support shown by Plymouth and the UK towards Keyham has been overwhelming and we thank you for all your kind messages, it means a lot.

‘At the moment Keyham is grieving. We grieve because we love and grief is love. We are in shock, feel guilty and angry about the events surrounding the deaths of our beloved community members because we love.

‘It is that love and energy that we can now use to being about change. As a community we will look to restore and rebuild together. Collectively we will support each other and help bring back a community we want our children to inherit.’ 

An investigation is now under way by the IOPC into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence.

It will look at why Devon and Cornwall Police returned Davison’s gun and firearms permit to him last month, after it was removed following an allegation of assault in September last year.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: ‘The circumstances surrounding Jake Davison’s shotgun certificate, and any information Devon and Cornwall Police had relating to him, are now the subject of an investigation by the IOPC. We are therefore unable to comment further.’

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