§ Mr. Milburn
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people(a) were found by Customs to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition and (b) were prosecuted for illegal importation of firearms and ammunition in (i) 1992 and (ii) 1993.
§ Sir John Cope
Customs do not hold central statistics on the number of people found to be illegally importing firearms and ammunition. The table shows, for 1992 and 1993, the number of: detected irregularities in firearms and ammunition importations; seized firearms; and resulting prosecutions. It is customs policy to take offence action, either by prosecution or compound penalty, when there is sufficient evidence to show that those concerned were knowingly concerned in a fraudulent evasion of United Kingdom prohibitions and restrictions. In all other cases action is restricted to seizure of the goods. The compound penalty procedure is used primarily in respect of non-commercial importations of CS gas canisters or undeclared firearms held for personal security reasons by visiting yachtsmen. These factors account for the low rate of prosecutions resulting from a large number of detections and seizures.
Year Detections Firearms seized1 Prosecutions 1992 N/A 1,427 6 1993 276 8,674 4 1The significant increase in the number of weapons seized in 1993 is the result of a small number of major seizures of CS gas canisters and the seizure of a major arms shipment at Teesport in November 1993.