Crossbow laws in UK explained as adults 'can legally own them' as manhunt underway for Kyle Clifford

Kyle Clifford
-Credit: (Image: No credit)

Police have issued a stark warning that a man linked to the tragic deaths of three women in Bushey, Hertfordshire, "may still be in possession" of a crossbow.

The hunt is on for 26 year old Kyle Clifford from Enfield, North London, with Hertfordshire Police urging the public to report any sightings and advising against approaching the potentially armed suspect. The shocking incident occurred on what locals describe as a "serene, quiet" street.

Amidst the ongoing investigation, Labour's Home Secretary Yvette Cooper took to Twitter to express her condolences and call for public assistance. She tweeted: "The loss of three women's lives in Bushey last night is truly shocking. My thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have been killed and with the community. I am being kept fully updated. I urge people to support [Hertfordshire Police] with any information about this case."

READ MORE: Everything we know so far about Kyle Clifford and Bushey crossbow 'murders'

In the UK, crossbows are legal but subject to certain regulations. The Conservative government prior to Labour had revised guidelines regarding crossbow ownership, treating them less stringently than firearms or other projectile weapons.

Under James Cleverly, the then Home Secretary, a note was issued by the Home Office in February this year stating that adults over the age of 18 can legally own crossbows. However, it warned they are not allowed to carry the weapon "without reasonable excuse", with penalties including up to four years' jail time, reports the Mirror.

In regards to hunting, using either a bow and arrow - or crossbow and arrow - to hunt any live "quarry" (or animal) in the UK is considered illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Section 5(1)(c)(i) for wild birds and s 11(1)(b) for wild animals. Despite the ban on hunting, no form of licence or registration is needed to own a crossbow in the United Kingdom.

The government at that time said it was considering tightening crossbow laws further, and initiated a call for evidence to determine whether the regulations are "tough enough". The proposed changes suggest that stronger laws could align more closely with gun law restrictions, incorporating measures like a "licensing scheme to protect public safety police checks for anyone looking to purchase a crossbow".

Laura Farris, who was then Safeguarding Minister in the government, acknowledged that although crossbows are infrequently used in violent crimes, they pose a serious risk when they are. She stated: "Crossbows are used rarely in violent crime in this country but they can be highly dangerous."

"We're doing all we can to ensure we have the appropriate measures in place against any risks these potentially dangerous weapons may pose. I encourage the public and those in the industry to come forward to share their views so we can have the most accurate picture and take any necessary action to keep our streets safe."

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