The VCR Act is the violent crime reduction act, introduced by parliament in October 2007.
What does it do?
It has many sections, but there are 2 that affect airsoft skirmishers.
The first bans the importation, manufacture and sale of Realistic imitation firearms. (So everything gun shaped airsofters use)
The second bans anybody under 18 from buying any type of replica, realistic or not.
There are several other sections that define what a realistic imitation firearm (RIF) is and also the way you define an imitation firearm (IF), but they are largely irrelevant to most airsofters. Take it as read that includes anything that looks like real gun and you shouldn’t get into trouble.
Thankfully 2 years fighting the act as it went through parliament resulted in airsoft skirmishing getting a specific defence against prosecution under the VCR act. Anybody that can prove they are a skirmisher can avail themselves of the defence, so they can be sold to, import and manufacture as many replicas as they like.
Any existing replicas you own (regardless of how old you are) are not affected as there is nothing in the act about ownership and you can be gifted any sort of RIF or IF, even if you are under 18, as long as the person that buy’s it can legally do so.
So how do you get a site membership?
The government didn’t want just anybody claiming they were a skirmisher, or every Tom Dick and Harry that wanted a RIF would claim they were, so they devised a sensible system for players to prove they were genuine.
To satisfy the requirements of the defence they require a player to have played at least 3 times at a site in a period longer than 2 months. To qualify as a site it must be insured for airsoft skirmishing.
Consequently most sites in the UK now run a membership scheme, you play at the site 3 times in at least a 2 month period, sign up and you can buy as many RIF’s as you need.