Op Crosshair – Cumbria takes the lead with safeguarding operation

A safeguarding operation – Op Crosshair – was conducted in Cumbria at the weekend, with specialist officers attending the addresses of a number of firearms certificate holders to check they are adhering to the strict terms of their firearms certificate and that they do not present a risk to the public safety.

The operation was a national as well as a Cumbrian first and saw five addresses visited across the county.

The addresses were chosen as a result of intelligence received regarding potential firearms certificate breaches, as well as association with illegal drug use.

The officers attended the addresses and as well as checking the firearms were present and correctly and safely stored, they also carried out drugs wipe checks with certificate holders to ensure their judgement and self-control is not impaired through illegal substance misuse/ensure they did not present a danger to the public safety.

Of the five addresses visited, three were passed as having met the requirements of their firearms certificate, including proper storage of the firearms, and provided a negative drugs wipe.

One was identified as further action required as the firearms had been moved to a new address without proper notice having been given. The new address was visited and the firearms located in a secure, locked cabinet.

However, the fifth individual visited failed a drugs wipe for cannabis and the decision was taken to revoke the firearms certificate. The individual then voluntarily surrendered their firearm to officers.

More operations will be undertaken, following a similar intelligence-led approach, to ensure that firearms certificate requirements are being complied with and certificate holders do not present any danger to the public.

Cumbria Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Blackwell: “There are strict laws and regulations around gun ownership in the United Kingdom. It is important that steps are taken to ensure that those trusted to be in possession of a firearm are abiding by the rigorous terms of the firearms certificate they hold, as well as conducting themselves in a manner that does not give rise to concerns that they are not suitable to hold such a certificate.

“Whilst this was the first proactive operation under Op Crosshair, more such visits are planned in the near future, which will continue to include a focus on illegal substance misuse. As such, firearms certificate holders are urged to take steps today to ensure they are fully compliant with the terms of their certificate, including ensuring all firearms are properly registered, accounted for and safely secured.

“In Cumbria there are over 10,000 legally-held firearms certificates, and it is important to make clear that the overwhelming majority – including the many who require a certificate as part of their working life – take their responsibilities as firearms certificate holders seriously and responsibly. 

“Operation Crosshair will not involve engagement with all firearms certificate holders, or even random selection, but will instead continue to be intelligence-led, focusing on individuals where there are concerns regarding potential firearms certificate breaches.”

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