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Police using procedure to punish.

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Police using procedure to punish.

Postby shootist » Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:27 pm

As usual, I hope this is at least nearly in the right section.

I was informed recently of a Firearms Certificate holder of many years experience who had his firearms certificate renewal refused because he had legitimately acquired a firearm but had failed to notify his local firearms administration of it's acquisition. The reason was not stated but is most unlikely to be deliberate as it would be obvious that the person supplying the firearm would inform the police of it's transfer. He was told that he might get it back in a year, but in the event it was two years. He applied and was issued as if nothing had happened, the full licence being restored without any new limitations. No prosecution was made.

It seems to me that the police got a snotty on and used their refusal to punish the man. There was clearly no safety issues or the licence would either not be returned or returned with some restrictive conditions.

Please assume that there is no hidden detail in the circumstances for the purpose of my question.

The person concerned was obliged to dispose of his firearms, and now has to buy replacements, rarely a profitable exercise. Is there any civil remedy to recover costs encountered as a result of this action?
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:41 pm

shootist wrote:As usual, I hope this is at least nearly in the right section.

I appreciate your concern, but you really shouldn't worry so much: it is easy enough moved if need be. I do this all the time.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby theycantdothat » Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:46 pm

He "failed to notify his local firearms administration of it's acquisition". I cannot see any civil claim succeeding if he did follow the rules.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby shootist » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:01 pm

theycantdothat wrote:He "failed to notify his local firearms administration of it's acquisition". I cannot see any civil claim succeeding if he did follow the rules.


I take it you mean didn't follow the rules.

He made a clerical error which can be prosecuted if it matters that much. While I realise that two wrongs don't make a right, there was a case reported recently of a man who inadvertently left a shotgun by the roadside. He was fined but his shotgun certificate wasn't revoked or removed. But neither do two wrongs make a right when the man has made a mistake of minimal consequence and the police punish him by acting ultra vires. Suppose you got caught speeding (a more dangerous offence) and instead of prosecuting you a police officer said he was going to take your car away for a year and wasn't going to allow you to buy another one.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:03 pm

Punishment without trial is prohibited by HRA, if not elsewhere, but you would have to persuade the court that it was properly a punishment.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby dls » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:12 pm

No, no no.
There is no right to a gun licence. It is a privilege granted to those who inter alia, demonstrate a proper understanding of the need to comply with the associated administrative arrangements.

I do not accept for a second that he is being 'punished'.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby shootist » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:16 pm

Hairyloon wrote:Punishment without trial is prohibited by HRA, if not elsewhere, but you would have to persuade the court that it was properly a punishment.


I used the term 'punish' in a very general sense. It might more appropriately be described as the police acting ultra vires as a result of which the person concerned suffered financial loss as well as possible losses under the HRA. I was thinking of the small claims court for the former and might have thought of action under the HRA if it wasn't for the fact that I doubt anyone would give a toss.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:17 pm

dls wrote:I do not accept for a second that he is being 'punished'.

Your kids are grown up now: perhaps you forget that withholding of privileges is quite a good punishment.
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:20 pm

shootist wrote:
Hairyloon wrote:Punishment without trial is prohibited by HRA, if not elsewhere, but you would have to persuade the court that it was properly a punishment.


I used the term 'punish' in a very general sense. It might more appropriately be described as the police acting ultra vires as a result of which the person concerned suffered financial loss as well as possible losses under the HRA. I was thinking of the small claims court for the former and might have thought of action under the HRA if it wasn't for the fact that I doubt anyone would give a toss.

If you go to court then it forces someone to give a toss. The judge shouldn't give a toss, he should just decide on the application of the law to the facts.
What is your cause of action in the courts? Misfeasance comes to mind, but not firmly enough to look it up again.
Can you take action in the small claim court for a breach of HRA? I don't see why not?
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Re: Police using procedure to punish.

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:31 pm

I think it would be something of a stretch to describe this as a punishment. The Firearms Act requires the Police to form a judgment as to whether a person is fit to hold a certificate, with all due respect I think it would be difficult to argue that the Police were acting ultra vires or that their decision was Wednesbury unreasonable. The Police were acting under a specific statutory power which gives them wide discretion. Surely it is fundamental to the registration system that firearms must not be lost track of, and the firearms in the possession of an individual must be known to the Police. If an individual fails to comply with those requirements it must call that fitness into question. Was an appeal against the refusal to renew the certificate made?

For the avoidance of doubt my answer would be the same if "cats" were substituted for "firearms" in the above paragraph.
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