THE NUMBER of firearms that were reported lost or stolen last year in West Mercia have been revealed in new figures.

According to Home Office figures, 40 firearms or shotguns were lost or stolen – up from six in 2020-21.

The figure also shows that 13 firearms licences were revoked by West Mercia Police in the year to March – though this was down from 18 in 2021-22.

In 2008-09, when records first began, 12 firearms were revoked. Meanwhile, a further 30 shotgun licences were revoked last year.

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Across England and Wales, a record number of licences were removed from firearms users, with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation praising the vetting process for catching unsuitable gun owners.

Action on Armed Violence, a campaign group that aims to end armed violence, said the UK's gun laws "work", with firearms deaths lower nationally than in many other countries.

Across England and Wales, there were 418 firearms revocations in 2022-23 – up from 385 the year before and the highest figure on record, which nationally began in 1992.

Some 1,161 shotgun licences were removed, the highest figure in the last six years.

Martin Parker, head of firearms at the BASC, said the reason for the record numbers is "almost certainly the introduction of statutory guidance on suitability checks of certificate holders in 2021", which the BASC assisted in creating to improve consistency across police forces in England and Wales.

Mr Parker said: "Shooting is an incredibly popular activity, incorporating tens of thousands of jobs, highly competitive target and clay pigeon shooting, and essential wildlife management."

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Iain Overton, executive director of AOAV, said: "The figures can be viewed two ways. The first is, reassuringly, in that there are attempts to assure that firearms in the UK are only held by those capable of using them legally.

"The second is a cause of concern, that the numbers are rising. The truth is that we, compared to many countries, are a remarkably safe nation for firearm deaths.

"Ultimately, we should be more concerned with knife crime than gun crime. In an imperfect world, our gun laws work."