Crossbow laws being urgently reviewed after three women killed, says minister

Estimated read time 4 min read

Ministers will move “at pace” to review the law on crossbow ownership, the security minister has said, after three women were killed in a suspected crossbow attack in Hertfordshire.

Dan Jarvis said it was “entirely reasonable” to question whether existing laws on the weapons were fit for purpose and that ministers would act decisively if they needed to be changed.

He said Yvette Cooper, the home secretary, was “very carefully” examining a call for evidence that was launched by the Home Office earlier this year.

“These are clearly very serious and pressing matters,” Jarvis told BBC Breakfast. Asked about the suitability of the existing legislation, which allows people aged 18 and above to buy and own a crossbow without needing to register it or get a licence, he said: “I think that is an entirely reasonable challenge.”

He continued: “​We’ll want to look very carefully at the legislation that’s in place at the moment and we’ll need to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later as to whether the current legislation is appropriate or not.

“If we decide that it isn’t – and I think you raise a really important point about the ability of people to buy these particular weapons – then we’ll need to make changes to the legislation. But we need to do this properly, there needs to be due process.”

The call for evidence closed under the Conservative government in April but there has been no further progress towards changing the laws governing crossbows.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Jarvis said the attack in Bushey was “devastating” and expressed his condolences for the victims’ family.

He said that Cooper was “very concerned” about the current legislation. “She will want to look at the evidence that already has been collected and look at the circumstances not just of what happened yesterday but of other incidents as well.

“We are seized by the seriousness and the importance of this and I think you will be aware we have made a manifesto commitment to halve violence against women and girls in our country over a 10-year period.”

Jarvis added: “We will make a judgment as early as we are able as to whether the current legislative framework is appropriate and if it’s not we will change it, because nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of the public,” he said.

Composite of Hannah, Carol and Louise Hunt.View image in fullscreen

Tributes have been paid to Carol Hunt and her two daughters, Hannah, 28, and Louise, 25, who were found seriously injured at a home in Bushey, Hertfordshire on Tuesday and died shortly after at the scene.

It emerged on Wednesday that they were the family of John Hunt, the BBC racing commentator.

Police believe the attack was targeted and carried out with a crossbow, as well as possibly other weapons. They detained Kyle Clifford, 26, on Wednesday in connection with the incident and he remains in hospital with injuries.

Ch Supt Jon Simpson, from Hertfordshire police, told reporters the women were believed to have been killed in a targeted incident. No one else is being sought in connection with the investigation.

The government is expected to authorise the release of thousands of inmates in England and Wales early in the coming months to prevent jails from becoming full.

The scheme is expected to allow early release for those who have served 40% of their sentence, instead of 50% under current rules. Ministers are examining whether the scheme can exclude domestic abusers.

Asked what would happen if someone who was freed early offended again, Jarvis told the Today programme: “We will always act to keep the public safe, but we will have to make decisions in the coming days about prison population.”


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