olice failed to trawl through incel killer Jake Davison’s social media before giving back the gun he used to kill five people because it was an “invasion of his privacy”.
The apprentice crane operator described himself online as a “Terminator” and said he was “defeated by life” before killing his mother Maxine Davison and four strangers.
He also wrote about his affinity with the “incel” movement, a highly misogynistic group of men who blame women for their involuntary celibacy.
Devon and Cornwall chief constable Shaun Sawyer said his force didn’t check Davison’s social media because they feared invading the 22-year-old’s privacy.
He said: “We take and return firearms on a not irregular basis when people have emotional crises or we receive reports from family members, then they can be returned.
“What we don’t do, because firearms licencing is a lawful thing, is trawl the internet looking at people’s lives. That’s an invasion of privacy.”
After his shooting spree, which also resulted in the deaths of three-year-old Sophie Martyn and her father Lee, Stephen Washington and Kate Shepherd, Davison turned the gun on himself.
It is the worst gun massacre in the UK since taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people in Cumbria in 2010.
It comes as a former Metropolitan Police chief said officers should trawl through social media accounts of people applying for firearms licences to ensure that “guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous people”.
Former commissioner Lord Stevens told the Sunday Telegraph that Davison was “clearly a dangerous man”, adding: “The videos he made should have been taken into account when he applied for a shotgun licence.
“There needs to be a trawling of online content for an in-depth assessment of who these people are and what they think.”
He said: “I think there are wider questions.
“How on earth did he get a gun licence in the first place?
“What back-up checks were done?” he added.
“I am glad there is the investigation already into why the licence was returned.
“I do think there are wider questions here and that could involve a review of the gun licensing laws because there are other questions here that urgently need to be addressed.”
Ms Patel, who was joined by Mr Sawyer and local Labour MP Luke Pollard, spoke to members of the local neighbourhood watch team.
Speaking at a park nearby she said: “It’s tragic beyond words, really, really tragic, for a range of reasons, and obviously for those involved.”
Special prayers will be said in Plymouth on Sunday as the city mourns Davison’s victims.
Churches across Devon including St Thomas’ Church in Keyham, are expected to use their Sunday services to remember the dead, with a special prayer written by the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell.
Devon & Cornwall Police have been approached for comment.