The licensing of air weapons has today (23 March) come a step closer following the publication of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee’s stage one report on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill.
Whilst supporting plans to license air weapons, the Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to strengthen the scheme by applying a unique identifier marker to link an air weapon to a specific owner. This would assist the police in tackling criminal misuse of air weapons.
As well as air weapons, the Committee also considered changes to the licensing of alcohol, taxis and private hire cars, scrap metal dealers, public entertainment, and sexual entertainment venues.
During consideration of the Bill, the Committee heard evolving technology and business models such as ‘Dial-a-booze’, ‘pedi-cabs’ and taxi booking ‘apps’ are becoming more common place. The Committee recognises evolving technology and new business models need an equally modern and adaptable licensing regime and the report calls for a wider review of licensing in Scotland.
The Bill also introduces a licensing regime for sexual entertainment venues. The Committee recommends the proposed exemption, allowing venues to hold performances no more than four times a year without a venue licence, should be scrapped to close a loophole whereby organisers could evade regulation by moving events from venue to venue. The Committee believes performers’ safety is better protected through regulating venues.
Committee Convener, Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“There is no doubt air weapons are dangerous. Recently a rail worker and a fire fighter were shot as they carried out their jobs and this kind of incident happens far too often. That is why we welcome plans to introduce a licensing regime for air weapons. It is a timely and important piece of work. Misuse of these weapons must be addressed and the Bill takes this objective a step closer.
“During our consideration, it has become clear to us that the current licensing regime, in particular the Civic Government (Scotland) Act, should be reviewed to ensure that it can meet the challenges of a modern Scotland.”
Recommendations contained within the report include:
- The Government should provide a clear and comprehensive public information campaign to enable air weapons to be licensed or lawfully disposed of.
- Police Scotland should be given a degree of latitude in the rollout of the air weapons certificate system to address future application peaks and troughs.
- The Scottish Government should ensure Part 1 of the Bill should not prevent sales by Scottish businesses to people who reside in all other parts of the UK.
- Club licenses and occasional licenses should be included when Licensing Boards are considering overprovision statements.
- Given the overwhelming evidence received of harm and links to disorder from overconsumption, an additional licensing objective should be added to the 2005 Act relating to the reduction of consumption.
Taxi and Private Car Hire
- The Scottish Government should consider a full review of all aspects of taxi and private car licensing and report back to the Committee within this Parliamentary term.
- The principal reason for licensing taxi and private hire cars is to ensure public safety, therefore any changes to the market, for example through the use of technology, should ensure licensing cannot be evaded.
- The same knowledge test should apply to all drivers, both taxi and private hire.
- A welcome for proposal to ban cash payment and for clarification of payment methods.
- The Scottish Government should clarify types of customer ID for digital record keeping.
- Options for establishing a national register of metal dealers in Scotland should be considered.
- The level of fines should be increased to take into account the substantial impact metal theft can have.
Sexual Entertainment Venues
- Provision to exempt four occasions from the licensing regime should be removed.
- The sexual entertainment venue licensing regime should be mandatory.
- All elements of sexual entertainment venue licensing (including advertising and alcohol) should be brought under the control of a single body.