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Air weapon scheme impractical and will not reduce air weapon crime

30 September 2014 | tagged News release

A newly proposed air weapons licensing scheme is impractical and will not achieve the desired effect of reducing air weapon crime, the Law Society of Scotland warned today, September 30. 

Proposals put forward by the Scottish Government in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill are far reaching and take forward a number of licensing areas, including alcohol, taxis and scrap metal, as well as seeking to introduce a new licensing scheme for air weapons and sexual entertainment venues. 

Air Weapons

Under the proposals, anyone who possesses an air weapon will need to apply for an air weapons certificate, which will cover all weapons held by that individual.  There will be no requirement for each individual weapon to be listed on that certificate. 

Archie Maciver, convener of the Society’s licensing law committee said: “Under the proposals, the air weapon certificate will apply to the person, not the weapon.  In practical terms, without a narration or description of each individual weapon the police will have no way of knowing how many air weapons are in circulation, and in the absence of serial numbers, as with shotguns, these weapons will remain untraceable.” 

Alcohol Licensing

The bill amends the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, which has given rise to a number of practical difficulties encountered by both licensing boards and the licensed trade – however these have not been addressed in the bill.  

Mr Maciver said: “There are issues under the current alcohol licensing regime and the 2005 Act which have not been addressed by this bill, particularly where a business is to be transferred.  At the moment, where a tenant who is the premises licence holder  just ups and leaves, there is no provision to transfer that  licence.

“In those circumstances we would like to see any person who wishes to become a holder of a premises licence being able to apply for that licence to be transferred to them.” 

The bill also introduces a 9 month time limit for an application for a liquor licence.

Mr Maciver said: “We very much welcome the introduction of a time limit for alcohol licence applications however we feel that 9 months is too long a time period.  

“It is our view that in terms of alcohol licensing this bill does not go far enough and that it is a missed opportunity to correct some serious issues.” 

Licensing of Metal Dealers

The bill also seeks to strengthen the scrap metal dealers’ licensing scheme.

Mr Maciver said: “We are fully supportive of any scheme that seeks to prevent metal theft and related criminal activity, such as the theft of metal from railway lines, which causes untold inconvenience and danger to the public.  We believe that removing exemption warrants for certain metal dealers and bringing them into the licensing scheme will help to achieve that.”

Sexual Entertainment Venues

Under the proposals the bill will introduce a stand alone licence for a sexual entertainment venue which would be granted by the local authority as opposed to the licensing board. 

Mr Maciver said: “The law as it stands requires adult entertainment to be listed as an activity taking place on premises which are licensed to sell alcohol.  Under these new proposals, premises would be required to apply to the separate local authority to obtain a licence for a sexual entertainment venue.  This could give rise to local authorities refusing such an application and businesses already in operation would no longer be able to provide this form of entertainment, in spite of no previous objection by the police or the public. 

“Accordingly, if a separate licence is necessary it should be the licensing board as opposed to the separate local authority which should administer the scheme.”


Notes to editors

The Law Society of Scotland’s full response the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill can be found on our website

Please note the spelling of Maciver in this release is correct. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Louise Docherty on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884 

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