Police data has revealed the areas of Suffolk where the highest number of weapon possession offences have been reported.

The data revealed that 26 offences were recorded in the Harbour ward of Lowestoft, while in Ipswich the Gipping ward saw 20 offences recorded.

Parts of Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds were also among the areas with the highest number of offences recorded.

Under UK law, the primary weapon possession offences are:

  • Possession of offensive weapon/s
  • Possession of a knife/bladed article
  • Possession of a firearm (both real and imitation)

It is illegal to carry knives in a public place in the UK, unless it is for work or religious reasons — or the knife is a penknife measuring less than three inches long.

Firearms offences hit the headlines this summer after a gunman killed five people in Plymouth before turning the gun on himself.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Government has also announced firearms applicants will be subject to social media checks.

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

Regulated mainly by the Firearms Act 1968, a certificate issued by the police is needed to possess, buy or acquire a firearm or shotgun, and also ammunition.

Rules surrounding obtaining a firearm or a shotgun vary slightly in law.

Both licences can be obtained from a local police force and require an application form, passport photo and a fee.

People applying for a firearm certificate need to give two references while a shotgun certificate requires one.

Earlier this week gun dealer Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 52, was sentenced for shooting his solicitor wife Silke, 42, dead at their farmhouse in Barham in May 2020.

Hartshorne-Jones was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of eight years under Section 45a of the Mental Health Act.

This will commence in a psychiatric hospital where he will remain indefinitely until such time he is deemed fit to be transferred to prison.

Ipswich Crown Court previously heard how he failed to disclose a history of depression before renewing his last batch of firearms certificates.

Hartshorne-Jones first got a shotgun certificate in 2000 and it was renewed in 2015. He also obtained a firearms dealer registration in 2010.

The court heard he had answered "no" to a question on firearms certificate applications in 2000 and 2015 about whether he had ever received treatment for a mental health condition.

However, it had since been found that there were episodes of depression recorded in his medical notes prior to the applications.

Although the UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world, home secretary and Essex MP Priti Patel said "we must never become complacent about these high standards".

She added: "This new guidance prioritises public safety above all else and we have taken considerable care to ensure it is comprehensive and enforceable, having worked closely with the medical, policing and shooting sectors."

The British Medical Association, which helped develop the guidance, said it makes clear doctors are responsible for providing medical evidence but the police force will make the final decision on issuing the licence.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “We welcome the statutory guidance issued by the Home Office which will make medical checks for all certificate applicants mandatory.

"This will further enhance the system of checks made on those who wish to possesses firearm and shotguns and assist in keeping the public safe."

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