Campaigners have warned that almost a dozen guns and more than 1000 bullets lost or stolen from Ministry of Defence bases could be used to commit crime.
It comes after a Freedom of Information request revealed that 11 rifles, 42 “explosive munitions” and 1,153 rounds of ammunition have gone missing in the last year.
A spokesperson for the Gun Control Network, which lobbies for tighter controls on firearms in the UK, said: “We note from time to time weapons are reported ‘lost’ on training manoeuvres in the UK. I cannot recall ever seeing a report of the military recovering their lost weapons.
“(They) go on to be sold, illegally imported, used in crime or hoarded by ‘gun enthusiasts’ in collections kept in homes, garages, stores and outbuildings.”
Thefts include eight rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition taken in one burglary from a Merseyside army cadet facility. In a separate incident, two rifles were stolen from a Reserve Centre’s permanent display. Another rifle was lost in deep water during a training exercise in Wales.
Land mines, grenades and flares have all been recovered, including several in the city centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and were described as “routine” by the Ministry of Defence.
On top of this, 210 laptops, 80 USB sticks and 30 computers were also stolen between October 2018 and September 2019. Weapons and MOD technology have appeared on the internet before, raising concerns they could fall into the wrong hands. An MOD spokesman said security is taken extremely seriously. He explained: ‘We have robust procedures to deter and prevent losses and thefts, as well as precautions to ensure devices cannot be accessed by unauthorised parties. ‘We have large numbers of devices right across the world, and whilst it is impossible to stop all losses, all incidents are recorded so lessons can be learnt and disciplinary action or prosecution taken when necessary.’
Previously, military weapons have been discovered for sale on the internet! According to the MoD, ammunition is often lost on operations or during exercises.