Why YOU spent £4m on illegal guns and zombie knives: Row as Home Office dishes out cash to owners of vicious weapons on banned list
The owners of illegal guns, zombie knives and knuckle-dusters have been paid more than £4million in a weapons-for-cash scheme.
Nearly 50,000 lethal items were bought by the Home Office, it was revealed in a Daily Mail freedom of information request.
Under the controversial arrangement, taxpayers’ cash is given to anyone who held a weapon due to be banned by new laws which came into effect last month.
All the items were already barred in public by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 but have now been outlawed in private.
Experts have questioned the amount paid for 48,447 weapons from last December to March as the money mostly went on guns they say are rarely used in crime
Experts have questioned the amount paid for 48,447 weapons from last December to March as the money mostly went on guns they say are rarely used in crime.
It is believed manufacturers and collectors snapped up most of the cash as there were just 840 claims, meaning the average owner got £4,851 for a haul of 576 weapons.
The largest sum of £2.78million went on buying 1,000 lever release rifles while £262,470 was paid for 133 manually activated release system (MARS) rifles – both rapid-fire weapons.
Another £781,766 was spent on 32,348 pieces of ancillary firearms equipment.
Firearms expert Philip Boyce said: ‘In my 35 years in forensics, I have never seen a lever release rifle used in crime. I have seen a few MARS rifles but not many. These guns are used for rabbit shooting mainly.
‘There were a lot of lever release rifles handed in. I would be very interested in who had all of these as it seems to me like a producer.
It is believed manufacturers and collectors snapped up most of the cash as there were just 840 claims, meaning the average owner got £4,851 for a haul of 576 weapons
Bill for horror cache
- 27 swordsticks for £3,227 plus 255 curved swords at a cost of £13,536
- 94 shurikens (Japanese star-shaped weapon with projecting blades) for £405
- 959 knuckledusters were bought for £2,290
- 224 zombie knives at a cost of £2,299
- 8,504 telescopic truncheons for £170,110
- 61 blowpipes for £854
- 2,991 batons for £30,377
- 719 flick knives for £16,852
- 1,000 lever release rifles for £2,783,859
- 133 MARS (manually activated release system) rifles for £262,470
‘They could make a lot of money from this scheme. They can produce guns for under £100, easy.’
Owners could receive compensation by handing in items to police with proof of ownership or purchase and completing a form but there was no limit on the number of claims that could be submitted.
The Home Office had a list of values, such as £10 for a zombie knife, but owners could try to get more with an auction house valuation, receipt or other evidence.
Former police officer Graham Wettone, who served in the Met force for 30 years, was also puzzled by the scheme.
He said: ‘It seems they have put this in place to ensure manufacturers and collectors did not sell them on the black market. It is obviously a good thing that there are fewer weapons on the street but were these weapons really a threat? I can’t say I’ve seen any of these guns used in crime.
‘I’m left scratching my head as to why we have spent so much on this. It doesn’t feel that well thought through.
‘On the other hand, they’ve managed to collect some pretty dangerous blades that could have fallen into the wrong hands.’
There was a compensation scheme for handguns when they were banned in 1997 but this initiative is the first to offer money for so many types of weapon.
Mr Wettone added: ‘I’ve never seen an amnesty for so many different types of weapons before, which explains the high numbers.
‘If you break it down by weapon type, it compares about the same to normal amnesties as usually they would just be for a certain type of gun, or for knives.
‘But with an amnesty there is no paperwork, you just dump them at a police station.
‘The problem with paying is it requires paperwork which puts off any gangsters or types like that. It sets a strange precedent, offering to pay for things that become illegal.’
Under the law, anyone with a banned firearm faces up to ten years in prison. Those with the other weapons can get up to six months in jail or a fine or both.
Last night the Home Office said: ‘We will stop at nothing to stop deaths from violent crime and continue to give the police the powers they need to protect the public.’