'Drastic' cut in number of temporary gun licences issued by Devon and Cornwall Police

The 50-year gun licensing system is currently being reformed, Credit: Devon and Cornwall OPCC

The number of temporary gun licences issued by Devon and Cornwall Police has "drastically reduced," according to the force's police and crime commissioner (PCC).

PCC Alison Hernandez told Devon and Cornwall's police and crime panel on average only four temporary gun licences are now issued each month.

The 50-year licensing system is being reformed after an inquest found "catastrophic" failings in the force's firearms licensing unit allowed a lone gunman to kill five people in Plymouth.

In August 2021, Jake Davison, 22, used a legally-held shotgun to kill his mother and four others in the Keyham area of the city, before turning the gun on himself.

Devon and Cornwall Police gave Davison his shotgun certificate back just weeks before he carried out the attack.

Davison shot his mother Maxine at their home on Biddick Drive. Credit: ITV News

Following the inquest, Chief Constable Will Kerr apologised to the families of victims saying he was "truly sorry" for the force's failure to protect the public.

The force has invested more than £1 million since then to train officers in handling licence applications and the workforce has more than doubled.

But His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICRFS) recently said it still had concerns over the improper use of temporary gun permits.

The HMICRFS was commissioned by the Home Secretary to carry out an urgent review of the force's progress in April 2023.

A police watchdog found issues with Devon and Cornwall Police's use of temporary gun licences following a review. Credit: PA

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez told the police and crime panel the force had used temporary licences when it had an influx of applications but she said that practice has now stopped.

"It's drastically reduced," she said. "We still have some we need to resolve, but we have stopped the proactive use of temporary licences in the department."

She explained: "It used to be normal practice, but it's not good practice and it's different now."

Credit: Alison Stephenson / Local Democracy Reporting Service