A 10-YEAR-OLD was issued with a shotgun licence by Cheshire Constabulary.

The police say current legislation does not set a lower age limit for holders of shotgun licences but insist individuals are subject to ‘rigorous checks’.

A Freedom of Information Act response also reveals three 11-year-olds were among a total of 39 under-18s issued with shotgun licences in 2010.

Shotguns can be single or double-barrelled and fire a charge of small pellets. They are mainly used for shooting birds, small mammals and clay targets. The maximum effective range is between 35 and 40 yards.

Cheshire Constabulary spokeswoman Shelley Williams said: “Under law, you can apply at any age for a shotgun certificate if you meet certain criteria/eligibility as underpinned by national legislation and our force guidelines.”

She said police would investigate the proposed use of the shotgun, for example, if it was to be used for sport, such as clay-pigeon shooting or on a farm for pest control.

The individual would be subject to a criminal record and local intelligence check plus a health check to assess their mental state and if they suffered from, for example, epilepsy.

Anyone under 15 must be supervised by an adult over 21 years old. No-one under the age of 18 can buy a gun.

Cheshire police also carry out a home visit and make enquiries with the applicant’s school. Armed officers conduct random spot checks on licence holders to ensure conditions such as secure storage are being met.

Cheshire Constabulary reviewed its procedures in the light of the Dunblane and Hungerford massacres. National legislation also changed so that certificates can not be renewed by post plus most pistols and powerful rifles are banned.