1.1. Statistics on Firearm and Shot Gun Certificates are used to inform National Outcome 9 - 'we live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger' as well as The Strategy for Justice in Scotland. They can also be used by a range of stakeholders to monitor trends, for policy research and development, and for research purposes.
1.2. The Police Service of Scotland (referred to throughout this bulletin as Police Scotland) is responsible for operational policing in Scotland. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 changed the policing landscape in Scotland, replacing the previous eight police forces, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency from 1 April 2013. The statistics set out in this bulletin cover the second year following the establishment of Police Scotland.
1.3. With the establishment of Police Scotland, significant resource has been deployed to develop a new centralised database of Firearm and Shot Gun Certificates, known as SHOGUN. This replaces the previous approach whereby data was collected and held by the eight separate Scottish police forces. SHOGUN is the first national-level firearm licensing system in Scotland and, as such, can be considered to be the source of a new data collection.
1.4. This system has led to positive benefits for both the accuracy and depth of information available on firearm licensing in Scotland. When licensing was previously split across the eight legacy police forces, it could be difficult to identify cases where more than one person had access to the same firearm or shotgun if they lived in different force areas. With the establishment of the new SHOGUN system means this uncertainty is removed (alongside other improvements to remove duplicate information and improve data accuracy). The Annex provides an estimate of the number of duplicate firearms and shotguns that were removed through the introduction of a national-level firearm licensing system.
1.5. As a result of the SHOGUN-related improvements to data quality, this bulletin presents snapshot information on the number of shotguns and firearms in Scotland rather than time series analysis. This snapshot is based on the position as at 1st October 2015. As in previous bulletins, traditional time series statistics on the number of Shot Gun and Firearm Certificates, and the number of firearm dealers in Scotland is included.
1.6. As Police Scotland have devoted time to develop the new SHOGUN database and are the experts on this information, it has been agreed that responsibility for future statistical updates on Firearm Certificates in Scotland will transfer from the Justice Analytical Services division of the Scottish Government to Police Scotland. Users were notified of this change through a SCOTSTAT update on the 5th October 2015. Going forward Police Scotland will consider on an ongoing basis the best way to produce information on Firearm Certificates, in consultation with users.
1.7. With these recent changes to the data collection process and the plan to transfer responsibility for future publications to Police Scotland, the UK Statistics Authority has agreed to a recommendation from Scotland's Chief Statistician that these statistics be published as Official Statistics, rather than National Statistics.
1.8. Users are advised to direct any future queries for statistical information on Firearm Certificates to Police Scotland via their contact point at the following link, where requests will get forwarded to the relevant analytical team: http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/contact-us-form. In addition to this, if users want to raise any queries with a Scottish Government analyst, they can contact us at the following email address: JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot.
Email: Alastair Greig