Theresa May promises crackdown on gun middle men


Theresa May said 'middle men supplying firearms' are as guilty as the people who use them.

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A new offence of supplying a firearm will be introduced to tackle people who hire out weapons to gangs, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

Ms May told the BBC those supplying guns were "as guilty" as those using them as the impact was just as deadly.

The maximum sentence for the offence, which will apply in England, Wales and Scotland, will be life imprisonment.

It is one of a number of measures to be outlined by David Cameron on Monday in a speech on crime.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the cross-party Home Affairs Committee, welcomed the tougher sentences for "gun-running" but said the change must be made in consultation with the police.

The government is looking to regain the initiative after a difficult week dominated by the resignation of the Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell.

'Rented guns'

No 10's handling of Mr Mitchell's departure, five weeks after a confrontation with a police officer outside Downing Street, has been questioned within the Conservative Party.

The prime minister has also been criticised for confusion over the government's energy policy and fresh accusations that senior ministers are out of touch with the public.


David Cameron's crime speech has been a long time in the writing.

No 10 has hinted for months that the prime minister's first major address on law and order was just around the corner.

Other things always seemed to get in the way.

Perhaps that is why a lot of the measures that have been briefed to the papers seem quite familiar.

We knew that payment by results for cutting reoffending was being extended.

The new gun-running offence has been on the cards since earlier in the year.

Therefore it's more interesting for what it tells us about the prime minister's instincts in this area.

Gone are the very 2005-ish ideas of showing more love to young offenders.

In, instead, is the very 2012-ish idea of being tough on crime.

Monday's speech will be an attempt to end what he will characterise as a sterile debate between those who call for tougher sentencing and others who want to see more rehabilitation of offenders and say that "retribution isn't a dirty word".

Ahead of the speech, Mrs May confirmed that gun-runners who supply lethal weapons to gangsters could be given life sentences, telling the BBC's Sunday Politics show the actions of those individuals needed to be treated more seriously.

"We know there are middle men, who have firearms that they then rent out to criminals who then use them.

"There isn't at the moment an offence for someone to possess a firearm with the intent to supply it to someone else.

"I think it is right that we introduce that offence, because those people who are supplying the firearms are as guilty as the people using them when it comes to the impact."

'Strong message'

Since 1968, possessing firearms with intent to endanger life has carried a maximum sentence of life, but the police say it is hard to secure convictions in cases of trafficking by proving intent.

At the moment, people who deal in guns are mostly charged with separate offences under the Firearms Act, which carry sentences of up to 10 years, but ministers have been persuaded of the need for a specific new offence with a tougher penalty.

Welcoming the move, Mr Vaz said: "We have to make sure the law is very strong when people decide to sell firearms illegally or give firearms for other people to use illegally," he said. "This will send out a very strong message to those involved in criminal activity."

The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was vital that those who imported, sold and distributed weapons were "appropriately dealt with" and the penalties "reflected the damage" their actions did to families and communities.

However, a document produced by the Home Office earlier this year questioned the effectiveness of a new offence of possession with intent to traffic weapons.


  • Sentences for offences involving prohibited firearms are covered by the 1968 Firearms Act
  • Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life (maximum life sentence)
  • Possession with intent to cause fear of violence (maximum 10 years)
  • Illegally importing firearms or ammunition (maximum 10 years)
  • Unregistered selling, transfer or repair of a firearm (maximum five years)
  • Possession, purchase, sale or transfer of prohibited weapons and ammunition (maximum 10 years)

The document, produced as part of a consultation on the issue, said as many as 20 offenders could be affected each year.

It said evidence on whether it would reduce firearms offences by acting as a deterrent was "mixed". Any reduction in gun offences was likely to be temporary, it added, with the gap in the firearms market "likely to be filled by other individuals".

On Monday, the prime minister is also expected to announce that a payment by results system for private companies will be expanded and the practice of giving all prisoners £46 in cash when they are released from prison may be ended.

Labour say that, far from being tough on crime, the government was cutting 15,000 police officers, curbing the use of CCTV cameras and "watering down" regulations on the use of DNA in criminal investigations.

The speech comes after the prime minister replaced Ken Clarke with Chris Grayling as justice secretary in September's reshuffle, a move widely interpreted as a shift to the right.

Mr Grayling has already announced plans to toughen community sentences and give householders who react with force when confronted by burglars more legal protection.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Hey, Dave ! What about the REAL crime in this country ?
    Corrupt Politicians (a pleonasm), Frauding Financiers (another pleonasm), bloated Bankers, the legislating Lobbyists,... etc.

    The People are starting to see through the lies, manipulation and corruption, Dave ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    I absolutely disagree with the puerile argument about "you can tell how civilised a society is by how it treats its prisoners"


    Well, I think it is how it treats its PENSIONERS & CHILDREN

    No prisoner should be fed until our elderly and kids don't go hungry
    No prison should be heated until every pensioner's & child's home is warm

    Support the good people & victims before the scum in prison.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    First and foremost sort out the Judiciary, unfair convictions in Magistrates Courts by ill trained pompous want to be Judges needs as Urgent a radical new approach towards better Training and understanding of the Law. Justice is not always served Quite the opposite inappropriate verdicts allow blatant purger y to be accepted as fact, when logic and common sense should have prevailed

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    We first need better laws and harder punishment for the so called celebs and the gods{untouchables} that run this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    187 little_old_me

    Sorry to disappoint you but the bankers didn't steal anything, they may have been greedy and made bad investments but that doesn't make the criminals.

    Would you rather live next to a banker who go to work at 6:30am and get home a 7:00 pm or a house full of heroin addicts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    What MUST happen is that the judges must stop using the guilty parties "human rights" to either exonerate them or give them minimum sentences.
    They should look instead at the human rights of the victims!
    The victims are just that - THEY did'n't deserve what happened to them - the culprits do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.


    Bad intent towards others? And that's ALL criminals, is it? The wife who kills her abusive husband. The drug addict who gets caught shoplifting for the 40th time to fund his habit. The trespasser who squats in an empty home because he has nowhere else to go. Criminals aren't all the same and broad sweeping statements like "Prison 'educates' them" are just ignorant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Lateral thinking please, Mr Cameron, not rhetoric. Treadmills are the answer, with sentences denominated by the amount of power to be fed into the Grid. Then we'll get both crime and power prices down, as well as ending easy lives for prisoners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    We as a society need to tackle all the root causes, in the main they are caused by poverty, and the constant bombardment of advertising, ie you can have this and that now with no apparent effort. We are in many ways going backwards especially with our collective social responsibilities. I am no left winger but feel we have horribly lost our way when peole are afraid to walk many of our streets

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Tough on offenders? yesterday I saw 3 'hobby-bobbies' dishing out handful after handful of tickets to people on pushbikes, get done twice on a pushbike and you get 25 years? yer, that will teach em' - cut down on carbonless travel as well. It all makes sense to me now..........NOT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.



    SFO (THATS SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE) director David Green QC formally accepted the Libor issue for investigation.

    The FBI are also investigating Barclays in the US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    We will ALWAYS have these problems with Crime - until the general PUBLIC act responsibly and NAME the offenders - let's face it - MOST people shirk their Social-responsibility.

    We also need COMPLETE protection and RESPECT for those brave enough to 'grass' on those who make our lives a dangerous misery.

    Labours 'Broken Society - needs fixing...

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    178. You
    Your comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

    Yes it was very off topic. But exposed a fraud.

    189. PhilSpace
    A poll in a national newspaper now makes UKIP the third largest party in the UK. Which I expect will now be represented in the BBC coverage of news and politics to reflect that popularity

    The BBC makes the Greens more important. No PR in the media...

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    "Tough but intelligent" - good words Prime Minister, but not ones that spring to mind in association with you. "Weak and unimaginative" seems more apt. Never mind, you won't have to pretend for much longer. The men in suits must be working on a replacement already. If not, the country will do the job at the next election. Shame about that nice Mr Wotsit, your Lib-Dem poodle, has he seen the polls?

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    The leader of a bunch of swindlers, opportunists and conmen makes a speech about crime. He can start his clean up at home. People who live in glasshouses etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    You can picture Cammo in Michael Caine's position in the "Italian Job," as the Coach of State is wobbling, ready to go over. "I got a great idea lads!!! Lornorder!!"
    It's not a load of gold sliding towards the back of the bus, Dave. It's a giant pile of Tory-generated S***.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    Prisons have always been overcrowded, even before the fresh start initiative implemented before the riots. It doesn't matter how badly you punish a person, people don't commit crime with the intention of getting caught. The Chinese execute thousands a year but have a serious crime problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    More cheap soundbytes from Mr Cameron to apease the plebs.
    His party is cutting police officers and weakening law and order.
    As for offenders it costs a fortune to lock people up and the jails should only contain people who are a danger to the public. These cuts being forced through will increase crime as people get poorer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    175. John from Redbourn
    Perhaps it would be a good thing if people forgot that this is not a Labour government.....They are prepared to act not just talk.
    Fair enough. When are they going to start the acting though? It's been over 2 years and I haven't seen much of it yet. Unless you mean the thespian version - you know, as in pretending that they are doing something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Yeah.......starting with White Collar and Tax David ?


Page 39 of 49


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