Keyham shootings: Police not given effective training on gun licence applications, inquest told

Police officers processing gun licence applications in Devon and Cornwall were not given effective training to do the job, a senior police boss has admitted.

On day four of the inquest into the mass shooting in Keyham in August 2021, Chief Superintendent Roy Linden was questioned on whether officers had been properly trained.

When questioning Ch Supt Linden, Dominic Adamson KC, representing the families of the five victims, asked: "There was no syllabus, no specific training programme, no specific training of firearms enquiry officers.

"The reality is that such training as there was, was really through mentoring and looking at what other firearms officers were doing in processing applications?

"So in effect, the training was 'Here’s a copy of the risk matrix, check these databases, away you go?'"

Ch Supt Linden replied: "I wouldn't put it quite in those terms, but there was an absence of effective training, I will say that."

In 2015, a scathing report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary warned that if improvements were not made to gun licensing processes, lives would be lost in another tragedy.

This was six years before Jake Davidson killed five people with a pump action shotgun on the streets on Keyham. He then turned the gun on himself.

On training, the report said: "While some training has been made available, we are concerned at the continuing absence of nationally accredited training.

"Its absence has meant that some staff involved in the licensing arrangements, in particular those charged with making firearms licensing decisions, have yet to receive sufficient training, commensurate with their role and responsibility."

This afternoon, the inquest heard how police officials should have obtained a medical opinion from Jake Davison's GP before granting his shotgun licence in 2017.

When giving evidence at the inquest, Ch Supt Linden said the force's firearms enquiry officers did request a medical report from Davison's GP, but it was not provided.

On his application form, Davison had stated he had medical conditions including autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Russell Fortt, counsel for the Home Office, asked Chief Supt Linden: "Jake Davison did declare a relevant condition, but the guidance makes it clear it would not be safe to proceed?"

Chief Supt Linden replied: "Yes, medical opinion should have been sought. A report should have been asked for from the GP. It was clear that the guidance makes an expectation that an opinion should be sought from a GP."

Susan Jones, representing firearms licensing officer Steve Carder, then questioned Ch Supt Linden.

She said in 2017, Home Office guidance stated: "Police may ask the applicant to obtain and pay for a relevant medical report but chief officers may reach their own conclusions as to the significance of the medical evidence supplied, based on their own experience.

"Alternatively, they may seek the advice of a medical practitioner. Police should not consult specialists or consultants unnecessarily."

Ch Supt Linden agreed this was the guidance at the time.

The inquest continues.