'Accountability for firearms licensing lies with me' - Chief Constable after Plymouth shooting

  • Watch Bob Cruwys' interview with Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

The most senior officer at Devon and Cornwall Police has said the "responsibility and accountability" of how firearms licenses are handed out in the region ultimately lies with him.

But Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said it is imperative to allow the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate and determine if the force was wrong to award gunman Jake Davison a shotgun licence.

The 22-year-old shot dead his mother following an argument at her home in Keyham last week before going on to shoot four people he did not know, including a three-year-old girl.

The attack lasted just 12 minutes and ended when Davison turned the gun on himself before police arrived.

Floral tributes left outside an address in Biddick Drive as police stand guard Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

The IOPC is examining the decision by police to return Davison’s shotgun certificate and weapon to him just weeks before the killings after they were seized following an allegation of assault.

The IOPC investigation has already revealed Davison did not have his gun immediately removed following his admission of assaulting two young people in a park. It was not seized until three months later, after concerns were raised directly with Devon and Cornwall Police.

Speaking during an interview with ITV News West Country on Friday 20 August, Chief Constable Sawyer said: "The responsibility and accountability for firearms licensing lies with me as Chief Constable."

He said the IOPC investigation will determine if there were isolated failings by his force in the handling of Jake Davison's shotgun certificate, or if there are wider systemic problems which need to be addressed.

But he said the priority at the moment is getting answers for the families, loved ones and the wider community following the murder of five Keyham residents last week.

"There's 70 full-time detectives on this and an incident room of some 15 people.

"Then in addition the forensic teams, the counter-terrorism command is looking at the issues of phones and media for us to look at fast-tracks.

"But in reality we have five homicides, two attempted murders and a suicide that we need to get files to the coroner to answer his questions, but as importantly, if not more importantly, the questions asked by the families, loved ones and people of Keyham."

Ch Con Shaun Sawyer has praised the way the community and city have come together, including at last week's fireworks show.

He also praised the strength shown by the people in Plymouth since the tragedy.

He said it is now the job of the police, the City of Plymouth and the media to continue to help residents "come to terms" with what happened.

He said: "As the Lord Lieutenant said, there is real dignity within Plymouth, and there's a real hope for the future though it seems very hard to find at this time."