A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new Crimestoppers telephone hotline that the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) decided would be a good idea, that was going to be dedicated specifically to ‘concerns about legally held firearms’. What ‘concerns’, exactly? Well, mainly that shooters could be ‘vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups’ which is why the new phone line was designed to help the police ‘gather intelligence’, by urging members of the public to report any signs of ‘radicalism, extremism and vulnerability to terrorism’ among gun owners.
But after a dedicated campaign from the Countryside Alliance, the decision has been made to abandon the plans. The organisation had previously accused Acpo’s campaign of being ‘unjustified and ill-judged’, and encouraged their members to ask their MPs to oppose what they referred to as ‘the Acpo firearms campaign’.
Their plan seems to have worked. The phone line will no longer exist, and a joint letter, written by Acpo, the Countryside Alliance, and the ‘Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group’ states that the intention of these new rules was not to make the shooting community ‘feel that they are being unfairly targeted’.
Well, hurrah for that. Firstly, it’s a triumph for anyone who’s unsure about publicly funded organisations being granted unnecessary powers. After all, it wasn’t a very sensible proposal anyway, open as it was to abuse from anyone with an axe to grind. But secondly, it’s a fantastic example of a public body and lobbyists working together – for the public good. We all understand the need for gun safety. But a Crimestoppers line was perhaps one step too far.