PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - CCW Laws......To those that don't know...Legally Packing Heat!
Old 10th May 2010, 21:38
  #281 (permalink)  
Scooby Don't
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UAE
Posts: 204

There seems to be a touch of confusion here! So.... for the benefit of those outwith the British Isles, here's the info that matters.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of four constituent parts - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While they are often referred to as countries, the nation state is the United Kingdom. England and Scotland were separate countries, with separate monarchies and governments, until 1603. When Queen Elizabeth of England died without issue, her closest heir was King James VI of Scotland, who thus become King James I of England. The separate governments continued until the Act of Union of 1707.

Wales, formerly a principality (to this day, the heir to the throne of the UK is accorded the title "Prince of Wales") had already been subsumed within an English empire long before, as had Ireland. Prior to English rule, Ireland had never been a unified nation, so any talk of Irish "reunification" is somewhat bogus. Under both Elizabeth and James I, plantations (and early term for colony) of protestants were set up in Ireland, concentrated in northern counties.

For much of the 19th century, successive British governments attempted to steer bills through parliament to grant Ireland home rule - effectively independence within the Empire, as was granted to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There was opposition to such a move within parliament and also within the protestant community in Ireland. Eventually a compromise was reached under the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. Six of the nine counties of Ulster, the northernmost province of Ireland, were retained within the UK, while the remainder of Ireland was granted home rule. In 1939, Ireland unilaterally declared full independence while the UK government was a little preoccupied with more pressing issues.

Today, the constitutional situation is as a I outlined above - there is a single nation state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and another nation state entirely called the Republic of Ireland. Within the UK, while there is a parliament in Edinburgh dealing with matters specific to Scotland, and there are assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland dealing with their specific interests, the national parliament is in London.

The legal system in Wales has been unified with that in England for centuries, while in Scotland (and to some extent NI), a separate legal system was retained after the Union. Most major items of legislation cover the whole of the UK, though in some cases separate Acts of Parliament are required in order to comply with the Scottish and Northern Irish legal systems while achieving the same end, and in some cases (for instance, the legislation covering the legal calibres, bullet weights and construction, etc, for killing deer) both the legislation and the effect is different.

Througout the UK, there are police forces covering geographical areas - about 54 of them if my count is correct. Northern Ireland is the only constituent part of the UK to have a single police force covering the entire area. Thus, there is no such construct as "Welsh police" or "English police". There are some specialist police forces covering the whole of the UK, such as the Ministry of Defence Police (who guard MOD establishments) and the British Transport Police, but in general policing is a relatively local matter. London's Metropolitan Police has some extra-territorial responsibility with regard to fighting terrorism, and the City of London Police may well be called on outside the city when dealing with financial crime, but the vast majority of policing decisions will be taken within the force area by the Chief Constable of a particular police force.

Police on regular patrols, "beat coppers" in British English, are not routinely armed except in Northern Ireland. Most forces will have armed-response vehicles on patrol at all times, and police at airports are generally armed.

Administration of civilian firearms licensing is the responsibility of local police forces, which can lead to the law being interpreted in different ways depending where you live. I'm glad to say that by the time I left the UK in 2004, it was becoming more common for police forces, at least in Scotland, to realise that they were being paid by licence-holders to provide a service, and also that licence-holders were not the problem! Whether that is still the case, I don't know.

Anyhoo, I hope that clears things up enough that no one will say "England" when they mean "the UK" anymore!
Scooby Don't is offline