These lethal catapults should be taken as seriously as knives | Emma Kay

Swans are majestic, our largest waterfowl with beautiful marmalade-coloured beaks and brilliant white feathers.

By Emma Kay
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 7:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 7:10 pm
Two swans were shot at Chichester Golf Club. Picture: West Sussex Wildlife Protection
Two swans were shot at Chichester Golf Club. Picture: West Sussex Wildlife Protection

Living up to 12 years, they are exceedingly protective of their young and are so common we can take them for granted. Walks are improved by this striking creature brightening the dullest of our pond areas.

I was sickened to see the report about swans being attacked at a Chichester golf course. The bloodied images remain stuck in my mind. Two swans were shown in The News with bloodied heads and beaks and in visible distress.

People shooting animals with such indifference is not right. The birds were used for target practice by two suspected teens. The swan’s crime? Simply existing as a target for evil humans. The birds were shot with ball bearings from a catapult, a dangerous weapon that is perfectly OK to carry around in public.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

One of the swan saviours, Jaine Wild said: ‘The poor swan we rescued was covered in blood and I could clearly see a hole where the ball bearing had gone through part of the head.’

Harming an animal on purpose is inhuman, devoid of redemption. If you can torture an animal so easily with little or no care, it stands to reason you will not hesitate to harm something bigger. A cat, a dog, a child. So why are catapults not taken seriously?

Unfortunately, there are no UK laws that prevent you from carrying a catapult on your person, in a car, in the woods or in a town. There is only an offence committed when you use it as an offensive weapon. Only then is it considered an offensive weapon. Not before.

The law says someone carrying a catapult with intent to cause injury may be liable to prosecution under Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. This is not good enough. It is far too little, far too late.

Catapults are dangerous, silent weapons and can cause significant harm and property damage or even death. But they are not taken as seriously as knives. A catapult’s long range makes it much harder to catch the culprits. It is harder to run away from a weapon that can hit you from afar. The availability of this weapon needs to be brought to light more.


Let’s hope we all embrace the removal of ambiguous pay policies which have plagued us to the detriment, mainly, of female employees.

Hopefully, companies will have to include pay rates in job advertisements under government plans designed to rid the recruitment world of the gender pay gap forever.

Evidence shows listing salary ranges in adverts and not asking for your pay history is a fairer basis for women and disadvantaged people to negotiate their pay. About time too!

We must improve pay transparency in all job opportunities so it becomes the norm. Many talented staff slip through the net because they were not enthused by a pay policy.


The promotion of women’s world cups such as football and cricket is better than it was, but we still have miles to go for the equal promotion of women’s sports on air compared to men’s.

Before the pandemic pause there was game-changing financing and more coverage on TV of women’s sport which further fuelled excitement and change. The Commonwealth Games, the European Football Championships, the Ashes are all chances to support women in sport.

It is important for girls to see more female athletes and for them not to be forever playing second fiddle to their male counterparts. The Commonwealth Games will be pivotal. Will you tune in?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.