W Yorks Police Firearms Licensing Dept: in breach of policing code of ethics?

A couple of days ago, the following extraordinary tweet appeared on the West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Department’s official twitter account:

This is a shocking abuse of position. According to the national Policing Code of Ethics, police officers and staff are supposed to be impartial and non-political. For an official police account to use the hashtag #NoMoorMyths, which is the basis of a BASC propaganda campaign against those who oppose driven grouse shooting, is neither impartial or non-political.

Our objection isn’t based on whether or not we support grouse shooting, because we’d be equally appalled if we saw an official police account promoting the hashtag #BanDrivenGrouseShooting. This is about having confidence in the police’s ability to be professional and objective.

The police are also not supposed to abuse or harass members of the public (in this case, re-tweeting an offensive comment about Chris Packham).

The West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Department’s twitter account is relatively new (the account opened on 18 July 2017) but a quick scan through some of its other tweets (e.g. promoting the Glorious 12th) is an alarming demonstration that whoever is operating the account needs to receive some advice on professional standards, and pronto!

Perhaps West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins might want to have a word. Emails of encouragement to: dee.collins@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

41 Responses to “W Yorks Police Firearms Licensing Dept: in breach of policing code of ethics?”

  1. 1 Secret Squirrel
    August 10, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Are we really surprised? I suspect most Police firearms licensing officers have an interest in Firearms, which comes from either target shooting or hunting. In the same way that it seems a % of Police wildlife officers have an interest in shooting.

    Still looks like a sacking offence to me. Wonder if they will claim they were hacked?

  2. 2 Dylanben
    August 10, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Begs the question whether this obvious bias in favour of shooting influences decisions to issue Firearms Licenses!

  3. 3 Peter Shearer
    August 10, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    And all the people that think we are unfair on the police might like to try and explain this one! Or could it just be that our doubts are well founded…..

  4. 4 Alan Johnson
    August 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    A sharply-worded email has been sent to the Chief Constable. I commend this action to others: don’t just get angry, take ACTION!

    • 5 Ian Poxton
      August 10, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Totally agree. Email sent

      • 6 Ian Poxton
        August 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        A rapid, and very welcome reply from the West Yorkshire Chief Constable:

        Dear Ian,

        Thank you for your e-mail expressing concern about our West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing account and a recent tweet that has since been removed.

        This is a new Twitter account and the two authors will receive advice about ensuring the balance of the content is fair and objective. I can understand your concerns and please accept my apology and that no offence was intended.

        I intend to deal with this as a learning opportunity for all including the team and also the Force. I have also put out 2 tweets to apologise publically.

        Kind regards,


        Dee Collins,
        Chief Constable,
        West Yorkshire Police,
        Force HQ,
        PO Box 9
        Laburnum Road,
        West Yorkshire.
        WF1 3QP

        • 7 Messi
          August 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm

          I’m wondering what exactly, they ‘learn’ from this ‘opportunity’ – that the police should avoid revealing their biases in public? The twitter account is still full of BASC-related tweets and re-tweets. Why the obsession with BASC? Why was it appropriate that the last tweet sent from this account today was yet another BASC-related tweet? They don’t appear to be promoting the benefits of other uses to which firearms can be put with anywhere near as much enthusiasm – no mention of clay pigeon shooting, non-live target shooting, vintage firearms – it’s all about game shooting! Oh, and not a single tweet asking for public help regarding any instance of illegal firearm use……

    • 8 Mick
      August 10, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Email has been sent and I will also be contacting my MP if I don’t get a satisfactory reply by the end of tomorrow.

    • 10 Alan Johnson
      August 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      I have received an apologetic email reply from Dee Collins saying that the offending material has been removed and an assurance that the officers involved will receive advice about ensuring “the balance of content is fair and objective.” She says it will be used as a learning opportunity. Credit is due for the prompt response, but it feels to me like the tail’s wagging the dog here. Thanks to others who also sent emails.

  5. 11 Gordon Milward
    August 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I was, for my sins, when employed, the Head of a police force licensing Section. There was no bias there then and I suspect none now. As for the WYP tweet, write to the PCC as well as the CC.

  6. 13 Colin McP
    August 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    This is unbelievable – showing a bias towards licensing of firearms on Grouse Moor estates.

    What next – “We won’t investigate license abuse if a raptor was shot on a grouse moor.” ?

  7. 14 Les Wallace
    August 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Just emailed Dee – wasn’t too polite about what has happened, utter disgrace especially given the history of officers with shooting interests who have volunteered to become WCOs – and then nothing happens. I mentioned this and also copied in a link to the recent report on the bird decline on Ilkley Moor which gives a completely different picture to what’s happening on grouse moors than the NoMoorMyths tosh. Also link to the review on satellite tagged eagles and what happens to them over grouse moors. They really need to be hauled over the coals for this and MPs should have this not so little faux pas pointed out to them – speaks volumes doesn’t it?

  8. 15 Les Wallace
    August 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Just emailed the IPCC too – pointed out there have been suspicions for many years that some forces and even WCOs have not been carrying out their responsibilities in dealing with wildlife crime due to conflict with personal shooting interests. Time is well past when the full subject should be investigated properly which IPCC should do now, this blatant example of bias should act as a catalyst for it – email address for IPPC is enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk

    • 16 Northern Diver
      August 10, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      And of course in Lancashire, Duncan Thomas was a Wildlife Crime Officer & now works for BASC. Also another WCO has a sideline business selling ammunition and PC Karl Chew, Ribble Valley is a game shooter. No wonder Bowland is a raptor desert.

  9. August 10, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    CC of WYP and IPCC emailed.

  10. 18 GJD
    August 10, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    email sent to CC and PCC.

    • 19 GJD
      August 10, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      I received the same reply from Dee Collins as others have posted here, just after 5pm this afternoon. I appreciated the prompt response, but I did feel it worth replying to highlight that the important thing is not to simply remove the appearance of bias, but to make sure bias itself is removed.

  11. 20 Steve macsweeney
    August 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm


  12. 21 Chris Batchelor
    August 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I have emailed the CC.

  13. 22 Colin McP
    August 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Just noticed the tweet has been deleted. Somebody is going to have to provide an explanation for this.

  14. August 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Done – copying all of those suggested above plus look.north@bbc.co.uk

  15. August 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    I am often surprised by the apparent support from high places that the Grousers seem to enjoy, but this is truly something else. I simply can’t understand how anyone could think it is ok to write that.

  16. 25 Willie S.
    August 10, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    What investigating officer ? – what memberships ? – what connections ? – what bungled investigation ? – what lack of evidence ? – what dropped charges ? These are the type of questions that this lack of impartiality can, quite properly, be asked of the police in future investigations. Someone here may well have to be relieved of any such investigation work.

  17. August 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I can’t fault the West Yorks force for promptness as I’ve just had the following reply “Thank you for your e-mail expressing concern about our West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing account and a recent tweet that has since been removed.

    This is a new Twitter account and the two authors will receive advice about ensuring the balance of the content is fair and objective. I can understand your concerns and please accept my apology and that no offence was intended.

    I intend to deal with this as a learning opportunity for all including the team and also the Force. I have also put out 2 tweets to apologise publically”.

    • 27 Messi
      August 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      The account is still full of tweets promoting BASC and grouse shooting events – the police must not spend time tweeting such things

  18. 28 AnMac
    August 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Perhaps we should not be surprised that someone in this position thinks ‘he/she’ knows best and tweets such a comment.
    It is not wonder that we always have suspected that some of the blue uniform brigade are too close to the action to be impartial.
    What chance do we have in catching the perpetrators of raptor persecution when this information has been exposed by the very persons responsible for investigating such crimes.

    I despair..

  19. 29 Gerard
    August 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    I personally have very, very low expectations of most police officers. They often ride around in the midst of an “I am a knight in shining armour” fantasy and as a consequence only ever respond “maidens in distress.” Try to get them interested in anything except spreading their seed, is virtually impossible.

    As with most things, there are some good eggs though.

  20. 30 Steve macsweeney
    August 10, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Very convincing reply from Dee Collins.

  21. 31 Stephen Brown
    August 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I too received to round robin email which I think totally inadequate and a fop. Here is my reply:

    Dear Mr Collins

    Advice? Is that the best response that you can come up with? Your officers have been guilty of pedalling pro-shooting propaganda on an official police account (not for the first time) with a wilful disregard for the Policing Code of Ethics requiring impartiality and non-political. Let me remind you that these officers were operating in your Firearms Licensing Dept and yet were stupid enough to be caught supporting a pro-shooting lobby group. Please advise how, in your capacity as CC, you can consider that this bias can come anywhere remotely near basic standards of impartiality and proper discharge of duty (I accept the pun) within a public office? How do you expect any level of trust or credibility when officers in such a position abuse their public office?
    I would suggest that either your recruitment policy is wholly unfit for purpose in that you are recruiting people who are entirely thick and lacking in any standard of judgement – which in itself calls into question their position within a Firearms Dept – or you have a very low expectations of your officers and consequently a very low threshold for what constitutes a satisfactory standard of professionalism.
    I repeat once again the standing of Yorkshire Police forces must be at an humiliating all time low. Your response is frankly condescending and disrespectful and only reinforces your current reputation.
    Advice? No, wholly inadequate but in reality I expected no better. Accept your apology? I won’t be fobbed off quite so easily. And do you seriously expect me to believe that ‘no offence’ was intended? Just exactly what do you think the purpose of this tweet was? Your officers clearly acted in a malicious way and knew exactly what they were doing and they were quite willing to put a member of the public at risk by their actions. Accept your apology and ‘no offence was intended’. Are you entirely naive? Honestly I think your response and suggestion is patronising to say the least. To be clear none of my questions are rhetorical. I do expect my questions to be answered.
    I have referred the matter to the IPCC.


    • 32 Gordon Milward
      August 10, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Dee is a lady. Your response doesn’t get off to a good start. I, too, have had the same round robin response. It arrived within a few hours of sending my enquiry. There is no way that the CC of one of the largest Forces in the country would be able to send the email and so soon; she’ll be way too busy. The response is more than likely written by her Staff Officer, a senior police officer who can respond with her authority. The fact that there is a stock response suggests she’s had a fair few complaints.

      • August 10, 2017 at 11:23 pm

        Not sure how relevant the salutation is to the subject of the letter and the initial reply was niot gender specific. But yes agreed the reply was far too quick to be genuinely from the CC. It was so bland and avoided the subject matter completely it had to be a PR brush under the carpet job.

        • 34 Gordon Milward
          August 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

          Stephen Brown’s reply to the CC of W Yorks starts off with ‘Dear Mr Collins’. Dee Collins is female. My other point is that the speed of reply suggests very little actual CC involvement.

  22. August 10, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    More evidence that the RSPCA / SSPCA should investigate wildlife crime and not the police. Why did Roseanna Cunningham choose not to give the SSPCA powers?

  23. 36 Janjay
    August 10, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Not only is her reply inadequate but in some ways totally misses the point! It’s not just that someone should use a police account to tweet something so obviously biased and wrong with the implication that they just need a little more training. The gleeful way in which it is announced and the encouragement to retweet proves that this person is totally biased in favour of grouse shooting and is therefore not fit to be deating with these issues at all! It is abuse of power in both the tweet and the reality.

  24. 37 briggan
    August 11, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Just thought I’d point out to the anti-police mob, FEOs aren’t police officers, they’re civilian employees.

    • 38 Pip
      August 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

      I doubt very much that the majority of people posting here are “anti police” as such – however the public should realistically expect that the police (or their civil employees) are unbiased . We have seen so many x-ray photographs of raptors containing shot and so many “disappearances” of raptors suspiciously in proximity to driven grouse moors that the comments posted by the firearms licencing department of WYP show a definite conflict of interest which, in turn, leads to a complete lack of confidence in WYP’s ability to conduct wildlife crime investigations in any meaningful manner.
      As for the CC’s anodyne replies to perfectly reasonable complaints regarding her management or guidance to her employees – what did you expect? I’m not anti police, but on the other hand I have very little confidence in them either in regard to wildlife crime and this sorry episode merely reinforces that view.

      It would appear that some WCO officers (note “some”) and some (note “some”) firearm licencing staff are bringing the whole policing edifice into disrepute………..

  25. 39 Willie S.
    August 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

    The site oversight is clearly inadequate – “Lessons have been learned” etc., would seem to be the order of the day. I would suspect that these “civilian employee posts” are very likely filled using people with a good knowledge of firearms. That’s clearly an understandable approach – all the more reason to use the people who don’t already have a biased approach to the shooting of wildlife and who just may have a slightly questionable view on wildlife crime that we know can be perpetrated “in the interests of” and the furtherance of game shooting.

  26. 40 David H
    August 11, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Anyone complaining to the Police Chief Constable might also copy their objection to the Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police and Crimes Commissioner for West Yorkshire: mailto:markburns-williamson@westyorkshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk

  27. 41 Iain Gibson
    August 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    It’s encouraging to read so many comments on this incident, however we all know it is really no more than a relatively minor indicator of a very worrying systemic problem within not just the Police force, but also the wider establishment in this so-called democracy of ours. Some people still find the archaic practice of shooting wildlife for food acceptable (even though unsustainable in an over-crowded UK), and the RSPB’s official position is that it is not “against” shooting for ‘sport,’ per se. Why not is another question, unnecessarily complicated by that society refusing to discuss ethics, in favour apparently of not rocking the boat to the point of it sinking. I maintain and will continue to argue that we will make no significant progress in eliminating raptor persecution, until the country’s largest conservation organisation realises that wildlife conservation and the prevention of animal cruelty are perfectly sympathetic objectives. It surprises me that any so-called nature lover can regard them as being incompatible. Sometimes I wonder if some people fail to recognise that cruelty, whether it be bullfighting, fox hunting or shooting a wild bird, is a two-way process, not only ending an animal’s life for no honorable purpose, but degrading the humans who carry out the act, with no care for how the animal or society in general feels about it. This is ultimately an inhumane and selfish action. The latest faux pas on the part of a police officer (or officers) is worth getting angry about, but we should remember that it is only a passing moment in our attempt to civilise society. We still have a long way to go, and it would help tremendously if RSPB would find itself a moral compass against people taking pleasure in killing our willdife, whether statutorily protected or not. Pleasing a certain sector of their membership and maintaining their link with the Royal Family might be their hidden agendae, but I firmly believe the initial shock, to the small minority of members who like to shoot, would soon blow over.

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