HUNDREDS of guns, described as the 'most dangerous' types of civilian-owned firearms, are legally held in Thames Valley, new figures reveal.

Covered by firearm certificates, section 1 shotguns are multi-shot weapons that contain a magazine holding more than two rounds.

Figures from the Home Office show there were 572 of these guns in Thames Valley in 2019-20 – a slight rise on the year before.

This was also the highest number of section 1 shotguns since comparable records began in 2015-16.

Across England and Wales, 19,255 of these weapons were in circulation as of March, just slightly fewer than the record number set two years previously.

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The number of firearms permitted by police forces throughout England and Wales rose to a record 605,000 last year, of which section 1 shotguns made up 3per cent.

The figures also show there were a total of 25,182 firearms licensed by Thames Valley Police last year – 2per cent more than the year before.

The majority of these (58per cent) were rifles and a further 838 (3per cent) were handguns.

The statistics do not include the more common section 2 shotguns, which are licensed separately under shotgun certificates.

In 2019-20, there were 567,358 of these licences across England and Wales – a decrease of 1per cent.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.

“Before anyone receives a firearms certificate, the police must be satisfied that the person is fit to possess one and they have powers to revoke certificates if there is a risk to public safety.”