Essex Police takes 220 guns from suspected domestic abusers

Seized firearms Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Essex Police seized 220 shotguns and other firearms as part of "Operation Wishbone"

More than 200 guns have been removed from licensed owners suspected of being involved in domestic abuse in Essex.

"Operation Wishbone" was launched by Essex Police in the wake of several high-profile domestic-related murders around the UK involving weapons.

Of the 24,500 licensed firearms holders in Essex, 777 were visited by Essex Police to check if it was suitable for them to own guns.

A total of 220 shotguns and firearms were seized.

Earlier this year, licensed shotgun holder Christopher Parry was convicted of murdering his wife by shooting her in the back near her home in Wales.

In October, puppy farmer John Lowe was found guilty of murdering his partner and her daughter in Surrey.

His shotguns and licence had been seized by police but were returned several months later.

Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption The force said their operation was launched in the wake of high-profile domestic murders this year

Essex Police checked details of licence holders to see if they had ever been the perpetrator of domestic violence, even if they had not been arrested, charged or found guilty.

They prioritised cases, focussing on the highest-risk first, and visiting the holders.

The force's approach was "victim-based", so people could say if they believed their partners or family members should be allowed to keep guns.

"If there were concerns, we took steps to remove guns, ammunition and certificates where we believed there was a danger to public safety," said Chief Insp Tom Simons from Essex Police.

Fifty people gave up their licences or had them revoked, and 86 people were given warnings about how they stored their guns.

Insp Neal Miller, who led the operation, said in future, any incidents where there is a suggestion of the involvement of a licensed firearms holder would be "assessed at the earliest opportunity".

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