Government considering tougher crossbow laws

Crossbow owners could face police checks under Government plans in a bid to prevent the weapons from being used in violent attacks.

There is currently no registration system for owning a crossbow and no requirement for a licence.

But it is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy or own one, with anyone carrying a crossbow in public without a reasonable excuse facing up to four years behind bars.

The Government is considering the move as part of efforts to “step up action to prevent violence on our streets”, the Home Office said.

The department has launched an eight-week consultation to see if there should be a licensing system to control the use, ownership and supply of crossbows, with anyone looking to buy one facing police checks – similar to regulations already in place for firearms.

It comes after convicted stalker Bryce Hodgson was shot dead by police last month after he broke into a London home armed with weapons including a crossbow.

Former home secretary Priti Patel ordered the review of crossbow rules after would-be assassin Jaswant Singh Chail was encouraged by an AI chatbot to break into Windsor Castle on Christmas Day 2021 with a loaded crossbow to kill the late Queen.

The 21-year-old was jailed for nine years in October last year and handed a further five years on extended licence after admitting treason, making a threat to kill the then Queen, and having a loaded crossbow.

According to the Home Office, there were fewer than 10 killings involving a crossbow between 2011 and 2021 but the department said it was “clear that when used as a weapon, crossbows do pose a risk”.

Jaswant Singh Chail court case
Jaswant Singh Chail broke into Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow on Christmas Day 2021 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

In January last year a domestic homicide review found the Metropolitan Police missed opportunities to protect Sana Muhammad from her ex-husband in the years before he killed her with a crossbow.

The 35-year-old was eight months’ pregnant when former nurse Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, then 51, burst into her home and fired an arrow into her stomach in 2018.

The pair had divorced four years earlier after entering into an arranged marriage in their home country of Mauritius in 1999, when Ms Muhammad was 17.

She died after sustaining catastrophic internal injuries from the attack but her unborn son – who was delivered by Caesarean section – miraculously survived.

Unmathallegadoo is likely to die in jail after he was found guilty of murder and handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 33 years in 2019.

Safeguarding minister Laura Farris said: “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.”