A stun gun has been intercepted by UKBA, what offence has been committed?

08 July 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

We have just received information from UKBA that a stun gun disguised as a torch has been intercepted prior to arriving at its desired destination.

The item is clearly a section 5 firearm, however, due to the item never reaching the desired location, do we have a power to arrest for importing the item?

Answer: 

Section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 relates to the fraudulent evasion of duty or attempt to evade any restriction / prohibition. In our view, the offences under this section can still apply where the goods haven't been received at the destination, and therefore an arrest can be made if necessary.

There are two offences, under subsections (1) and (2). Where the goods haven't been received at the final destination, subsection (1)(b) may be relevant, if a person has been found to be knowingly concerned in carrying, removing, depositing, harbouring, keeping, concealing or dealing with the item, with intent to evade any duty payable on it.

Subsection (2)(a) provides a more general offence of being knowingly concerned in any fraudulent evasion or attempt at evasion of a duty. From the information you have provided, this offence would appear to apply to your case in relation to an 'attempt'.

The penalty is contained in subsection (3). Subsection (4A) increases the maximum imprisonment on indictment in relation to certain items, such as firearms under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968:

'170(4A) In the case of -

(a) an offence under subsection (1) or (2) above committed in Great Britain in connection with a prohibition or restriction on the importation or exportation of any weapon or ammunition that is of a kind mentioned in section 5(1)(a), (ab), (aba), (ac), (ad), (ae), (af) or (c) or (1A)(a) of the Firearms Act 1968, …..

subsection (3)(b) above shall have effect as if for the words 'imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years' there were substituted the words 'imprisonment for life'.'

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