Crossbow ownership laws to be reviewed after Christmas Day incident at Windsor Castle

28 December 2021, 14:23

Armed police officers on guard at the Henry VIII Gate at Windsor Castle following an intruder entering the grounds on Christmas Day.
Armed police officers on guard at the Henry VIII Gate at Windsor Castle following an intruder entering the grounds on Christmas Day. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Priti Patel has ordered a review of the current rules surrounding crossbow ownership in the UK after an armed intruder was arrested at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day.

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People over the age of 18 can legally purchase of possess a crossbow without needing a licence or any checks under current legislation.

The Home Secretary has instructed the Home Office to look at possible ways to "strengthen controls" on the weapons.

A Home Office spokesperson said it is "considering options" to tighten the rules around crossbows.

"Crossbows are subject to controls and legislation is in place to deal with those who use them as a weapon," the spokesperson said.

"At the Home Secretary's request, we are considering options to strengthen controls on crossbows. Work on this has been ongoing throughout the year, and we keep all relevant laws under review to maintain public safety."

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The review follows a 19-year-old man being arrested at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day while allegedly in possession of a crossbow.

The Metropolitan Police said the man had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Police are also reviewing a video which appears to show a masked figure in a dark hoodie holding a crossbow and addressing the camera with a distorted voice, saying they wanted to "assassinate the Queen" in a "revenge" mission.

Demands for tighter regulation of crossbows initially came after the five-day inquest into the death of Shane Gilmer in April.

Mr Gilmer, 30, died after his neighbour, Anthony Lawrence, broke into his house in January 2018 and shot both him and his partner Laura Sugden, who survived the attack.

The coroner, Professor Paul Marks, submitted a report to Ms Patel in May in which he said he was concerned there is "no on-going control, record or licensing requirement for (crossbows)", unlike firearms.

Because of this, he said, "the police have no record of who owns crossbows, how they are stored (or) the number that are in circulation".

The coroner called on the Government to review the Crossbows Act 1987 and the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, "with the intention of regulating the sale and possession of these lethal weapons".

Under current legislation, it is an offence for anyone under 18 to purchase or possess a crossbow and for anyone to sell a crossbow to someone aged under 18.

Crossbows may also be considered offensive weapons and are prohibited from being carried in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.