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asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether a large number of post offices are unable to supply game licences; and whether this will be taken into account in decisions on the prosecution of those who have been unable to obtain a licence and who are then found to be shooting without a game licence.
The Post Office has informed the department that this autumn's supply problems have been resolved and there are now adequate stocks of all game licences to meet anticipated demand. All post offices are able to arrange the issue of a game licence but not all offices stock licences on their premises. This is an operational matter for individual post offices and would normally reflect past demand. Large, directly managed post offices are most likely to keep stocks of licences. Location details of these offices can be obtained using the Post Office Helpline (0845 722 3344). The Post Office, in liaison with Defra officials, is currently exploring options for improving the availability of licences in the future. The Game Licences Act 1860 (Section 4) requires that every person taking or killing game, or assisting in such activities, takes out a licence to kill game under this Act. The penalty for acting without a valid licence is level 2 on the standard scale. Whether or not extenuating factors, such as the availability of licences, are taken into account during the legal process is a matter for the police, Crown Prosecution Service and, ultimately, the courts to decide.