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Air Weapons

Freedom of Information: Air Weapons (R008232)

Thank you for your e-mail of 28 July 2014 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in which you seek the following information:

"The number of individuals reported to the COPFS for (a) carrying a loaded air weapon in a public place (b)trespassing with an air weapon (c) killing or injuring a protected bird without due authorisation with an air weapon (d) selling an air weapon to under 18s (e) discharging an air weapon in a culpable or reckless manner in each of the last five years, broken down by penalty imposed (no further action taken, FPN, court action and the like)"

You were, however, advised that there may be difficulties in obtaining the specific information that you had requested due to the nature of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) live operational case management system and that you would therefore need to identify specific offences that you wished to obtain information on. You therefore provided clarification of the information sought within your email of 30 July 2014, namely:

"The below common law crimes and statutory offences in each of the last five years, broken down where possible as to the action taken (no further action required, FPN etc"

Common law crimes: "culpable and reckless conduct", "reckless endangerment" where The Highways Act 1980 would be committed in England and Wales.

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006: ss. 31, 32, 33, and 34.

The Firearms Act 1968:  ss.16,16A,17,18,19,20,21A,22,24, and 25

As you have previously been advised, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) uses a live operational case management system, specifically designed to receive criminal and death reports from the police and other specialist reporting agencies and to manage the cases for prosecution purposes. The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes.

The information that you have requested regarding statutory offences that exclusively relate to air weapons has been provided at Annex A. While sections 31, 33 and 34 of The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 do relate exclusively to air weapons they simply amend existing provisions within the Firearms Act 1968 and therefore do not count as separate offences. Section 32(2) of The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 does constitute a separate offence, however, no such offences have been reported to COPFS in the period to which your request relates.

With regard to the information requested relating to common law offences and certain statutory offences that don't exclusively relate to air weapons, the COPFS case management system does not accurately record whether or not such offences involve an air weapon. Therefore, in order to identify how many of those offences reported to COPFS between 2009 and 2014 involved an air weapon we would have to consider each individual case manually. Section 12(1) of FOISA does not oblige a Scottish public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request exceeds a specified financial threshold, which is currently £600. I consider that to conduct a manual search of all cases that include a charge under one of the requested common law offences or the specified statutory offences, for the years requested, would exceed the current limit in terms of section 12 (1) of FOISA.

pdfAnnex A - Air Weapons R008232.pdf27.23 KB