To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate his Department has made of number of offences involving an imitation firearm in the latest period for which figures are available.
29 March 2019
In the year ending September 2018, the police forces of England and Wales recorded 1,342 offences involving an imitation firearm, a 20% fall compared with the previous year (1,668 offences). Statistics about imitation firearms which have been seized by police forces are not recorded by the Home Office.
Existing legislation ensures that there are controls in place relating to imitation firearms. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced a new offence to prevent the unlawful conversion of imitation firearms, and other controls include specifications on the manufacture of blank firing imitation firearms, and legislation to ensure that readily convertible imitation firearms must be held on a firearms certificate.
It is an offence to possess an imitation firearm with the intent to cause someone to fear that unlawful violence will be used against them or another person. Imitation firearms which are difficult to distinguish from real firearms are subject to specific controls. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 specifies that the size, shape and principal colour are to be taken into account in determining whether an imitation firearm is to be considered a realistic imitation firearm. There are a number of legitimate activities in relation to the possession of realistic imitation firearms, including for the purposes of historical re-enactment and airsoft skirmishing.
Firearms legislation and controls, including in relation to imitation firearms, are kept under review to ensure we have the right intelligence, detection and enforcement capabilities and policies in place to prevent the misuse of firearms.