Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Update on investigation into Devon and Cornwall Police decision making over Jake Davison’s possession of a shotgun and certificate
The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigation into Devon and Cornwall Police’s decision making in relation to Jake Davison’s possession of a shotgun and shotgun certificate is progressing.
We are carrying out a range of enquiries independently and have received relevant documentation from the force which is being assessed.
The investigation has established that Jake Davison applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and after the application was processed by Devon and Cornwall Police, a certificate was issued to him in January 2018, valid for five years. It is understood that in March 2018 Mr Davison legally purchased a shotgun.
In September 2020, an allegation of assault on two youths in a park in Plymouth was made to police and Mr Davison was identified as the suspect the following month. He was interviewed and admitted his involvement. It was decided that the offences fitted the criteria for the force’s ‘Pathfinder’ scheme, a deferred caution and deferred charge scheme designed to deal with offenders outside of the criminal justice process.
A scheme worker raised concerns with the force’s Firearms Licensing Department at the end of November 2020 that Mr Davison was in possession of a shotgun, and as a consequence the shotgun and certificate were seized by police on 7 December 2020.
Following Mr Davison’s completion of the Pathfinder scheme in March 2021 and a subsequent review by the force’s Firearms Licensing Department, on 9 July the shotgun and certificate were returned to him.
The IOPC is investigating what police actions were taken and when, the rationale behind police decision-making, and whether relevant law, policy and procedures were followed concerning Mr Davison’s possession of a shotgun. We are also examining any sharing of information between the part of the force aware Mr Davison had been identified as a suspect for assault and the relevant department responsible for firearms licensing.
The investigation will consider what background and suitability checks were made by the police including from open source material, and whether the force had any information, from Mr Davison’s GP and any other medical or mental health services he may have engaged with, concerning his state of mind. It will also look at the force decision to divert Mr Davison from prosecution for the assaults last year.
As requested by the Plymouth senior coroner, the IOPC will as part of its investigation also consider what changes were made by police following our predecessor organisation’s (IPCC) investigation into firearms licensing issues concerning Durham Constabulary after fatal shootings on 1 January 2012.
IOPC regional director David Ford recently said:
“Our thoughts remain with all those severely affected by the horrific events in Plymouth. We appreciate the significant public concern that has arisen and the need for answers to a range of questions for the safety of the public, and to understand what happened leading up to the tragedy. While we are at an early stage of our independent investigation, some information has been established about Jake Davison’s firearms licensing history which we have been able to share.
“I can assure people our investigation will be thorough and any lessons arising will be shared as quickly as possible with Devon and Cornwall Police and wider bodies as necessary. The force has co-operated fully with our enquiries and has provided relevant documentation and information to us to assist the investigation.
“We have confirmed our earlier decision not to investigate police actions on the day of 12 August and, after further assessment of the swift attendance by police officers to the traumatic events that evening, we have decided there is no requirement for the IOPC to investigate any possible causal link between officers arriving and Mr Davison shooting himself.”
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