NO licence or registration is required to own a crossbow in the United Kingdom.

Under the the Crossbows Act 1987, crossbows cannot be bought or sold in England, Wales or Scotland by or to those under 18. Possession is also prohibited by those under 18 years old except under adult supervision.

It is also against the law to hunt with a crossbow, which means the law largely restricts their use to target practice in the back garden and archery clubs.

However, as we have discovered, it isn’t hard to buy one.

Most large towns and cities have shops which sell them and if you can’t find one there are plenty of firms happy to supply one through the post.

Following the tightening of gun laws, sales of crossbows have increased.

Could some of these be to former gun owners who, for various reasons, have lost their firearms licence? The truth is no one knows for sure because the regulations around crossbows are so lax.

It seems strange that a weapon which, in the wrong hands, is every bit as lethal as a gun can be bought with so few checks.

Of course, the police have plenty of other things to do without adding crossbows to the list.

But while we can understand the reasons why, say, a farmer might need to own a shotgun, we can think of no logical argument why anybody would need a crossbow.

They are dangerous weapons and we must ensure that anyone buying them goes through a proper vetting procedure.