Essex Police seizes 220 guns in proactive crackdown on firearms being used in domestic abuse

Guns seized by Essex Police in Operation Wishbone

Guns seized by Essex Police in Operation Wishbone - Credit: Archant

More than 200 guns have been seized by Essex Police from people with firearms licenses as part of a crackdown on domestic abuse.

Guns seized by Essex Police in Operation Wishbone

Guns seized by Essex Police in Operation Wishbone - Credit: Archant

And one officer who worked on Operation Wishbone said the force’s actions encouraged people to reveal more details about crimes because they felt safer.

The operation was set up in response to serious domestic-related incidents elsewhere in the country where guns have been used.

It reviewed all 24,500 licence holders in Essex to see if they had been the perpetrator of domestic abuse, whether or not they were convicted.

Of those 777 people were visited by police to see if it was still suitable to legally own weapons.

Chief Inspector Tom Simons, who was responsible for the Wishbone team, said: “The purpose of the review was to identify licensed firearms holders where we had information to suggest they might have been involved in perpetrating domestic abuse.

“If there were concerns, we took steps to remove guns, ammunition and certificates where we believed there was a danger to public safety.”

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As a result of the investigation 24 licences were revoked with 26 people giving theirs up voluntarily.

As a result 220 guns and other firearms were seized by Essex Police.

Among the licences revoked were those for three firearms dealers who can no longer trade.

There were also 86 people warned about how they stored their guns following the police’s visits.

Inspector Neal Miller, who led the operation, said: “We prioritised the cases, focusing on the highest risk first and began visiting the holders to check on their suitability.

“We also made our approach much more victim based so that they had an opportunity to say whether they believed their partners or family members should be allowed to keep their guns.

“Throughout the whole process we also worked closely with our safeguarding team to make sure an appropriate safety plan was in place around any domestic abuse victims.

“We also found that when firearms were removed from homes, some victims then felt able to disclose further details of domestic and sexual abuse they had suffered because they were reassured we were taking action.”

Mr Miller added even where one license holder tried to appeal against the seizure of his guns the decision was upheld by the crown court in Basildon.