Crime chairman in gun gaffe

A joke about shotguns, made at a meeting of the Devon and Cornwall police and crime panel in Plymouth on Friday, left some observers shocked.

Philip Churm, local democracy reporter

Chair of the panel County Cllr Roger Croad (Cons, Ivybridge) was responding to the idea of using voluntary parking attendants outside schools.

It was among many issues raised as the commissioner launched her police and crime plan for the next four years. 

Police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Alison Hernandez said: “We have a community that has a hunger for being voluntary parking attendants outside a school. Now I know it will be probably tricky [but] I’d love to pilot that.

“You know, this community have had enough. They are really frustrated and we’ve got to work out a way to do it. And we’ve got a community that have come forward saying, we’re willing. So we’ll see how that goes as well.”

Cllr Croad responded with the off-the-cuff remark:

“That would be very interesting one. If you’re calling for voluntary parking attendants, I think you should issue them all with a sawn-off shotgun because it could be awkward, couldn’t it?”

Plymouth Council House, where the meeting was taking place, is less than three miles from the Keyham shooting in August in which Jake Davison shot and killed five people before turning the gun on himself. 

Horrified former assistant chief constable with Devon and Cornwall police Chris Boarland immediately took to Twitter, saying:  “Listen with horror as the panel chair makes a joke about issuing voluntary parking attendants outside a school with sawn-off shotguns. 

“With all that has happened recently and with ongoing concerns about firearms licensing. How can that comment go unchallenged?”

Commissioner Hernandez later addressed his comments suggesting they were misplaced and inappropriate. 

In 2017, Ms Hernandez was criticised herself after a phone-in on BBC Radio Cornwall in which she said told a caller she would “be really interested” in the idea of letting gun owners use their firearms during a terror attack. She said the proposal should be raised with the chief constable to address the implications.

At the time, Devon and Cornwall deputy chief constable Paul Netherton said it was “definitely an emphatic ‘no’” that people should arm themselves against such a threat.

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