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Children of 11 obtain gun licences in Hertfordshire
Children as young as 11 in Hertfordshire hold licences which mean they can legally fire guns, a Freedom of Information Act request by the Watford Observer has revealed.
Figures also show that two 12-year-olds, a 13-year-old and five 14-year-olds are among 74 people under the age of 18 across the county who have certificates enabling them to use firearms, including shotguns.
Of the 12,710 people in Hertfordshire who carry licences, 10 are aged 90 or above. The oldest is 92.
According to a Government website, a police-issued firearms certificate is needed to own, buy or get hold of a firearm or shotgun, or buy ammunition, though people under the age of 18 are prohibited from doing so.
Police hold certificate application forms which, when submitted, must be accompanied by photographs, referees and a £50 fee.
It must also be proved to the chief police officer that the applicant is allowed to have a firearms certificate and poses no danger to public safety or to the peace.
A shotgun certificate will not be awarded if the chief police officer believes the applicant should not be allowed to have a shotgun under the Firearms Act, or if it is deemed there is "no good reason to have, buy or acquire a shotgun".
A licence condition is that firearm or shotgun certificates must be shown to the police on request.
A Hertfordshire Constabulary spokeswoman said: "Most of the under-18s who apply for firearms licences do so for sports purposes and the application for a licence will have been submitted and supported by an applicant’s parent or legal guardian who are themselves a firearms and shotgun certificate holder.
"England has some of the toughest firearms licensing laws in the world, and Hertfordshire Constabulary will only issue a licence following stringent checks and when completely satisfied that the user will adhere to the conditions of issue."
In June the Association of Chief Police Officers said gun owners should pay higher licence fees to cover the multi-million pound gap in maintaining gun control in the UK.
The current £50 fee for a five-year gun licence - which has remained flat for the past decade - only covers 25 per cent of the estimated £200 cost to process and maintain the certificate and ensure the firearms are properly kept according to security rules.
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