Where did the NWA got all their guns and ammunition from? American viewers might be unaware that it's actually quite difficult for people in the UK to get hold of the sort of weapons the NWA are armed with.note In response to the Hungerford Massacre of 1988, it was made illegal for British civilians to own semi-automatic rifles of greater than .22 calibre, and shotguns with a magazine or multi-barrel capacity of more than two shells, while the possession of handguns by civilians was made illegal in 1998 in response to the Dunblane school massacre, and you have to have a licence from the police to own a shotgun.
With the exception of an occasional handgun or shotgun, all the weapons are pretty old, many of Second World War vintage. Even the FN rifle that Nick Angel uses for all too brief a time has been out of British Army service for about 30 years.
The simplest explanation is that these weapons were all collected during firearms amnesties, of which there have been several in the UK during recent years. Such amnesties usually scoop up quantities of wartime souvenirs as well as a small amount of unlicensed modern weapons.
Although they are then meant to be melted down for scrap, this is clearly not what was happening in Sandford. Instead, with the connivance of the Chief Inspector, the choicest items were being siphoned off and handed out to the NWA's members, should they ever become necessary, with a strategic reserve being stored in Arthur Webley's barn.
Sandford being located out in Gloucestershire helps this even more: they're in the country and largely unmonitored by London. Indeed, the officers out in London seem to take Sandford's, "peaceful West Country village where Nothing Exciting Ever Happens (and certainly not anything like crime or what have you)" facade at face value, so they'd be unlikely to actually look into anything, if they thought they had reason to suspect that something was rotten in the town of Sandford with regard to gun control—hence the Andys' early-on insistence that there are more guns in the country than there are in the city, and that "Everybody and their mums is packin' 'round here."
Even better, the real-world timeline would put this as having happened for about twenty years at the time of the film (i.e.,starting c. 1987), which means that, when the NWA started their crusade, it was before the real crackdown on firearms in the UK (the two main laws of which were passed in 1988 and 1997). When every other police force got tough on guns, the NWA just stockpiled them out of sight. No wonder they can get hold of the types of guns they have.
Angel only starts chewing on the toothpick in the evidence locker for one reason: to spit it out in the the town square. The town, obsessed with neatness as it is, now has a little tiny piece of litter on the ground, just another part of Angel's giant 'Fuck You!' to the NWA.
At the end, the first officer to believe him is Walker ("Oi r'ck'n e's gut summat thar"). We know that Sandford has been living the lie for approximately twenty years, at least since Danny was a young child. Since most of the officers on the force are about Danny's age, they would have been children when the NWA first started as well. Walker is the only one who is older, and is definitely old enough to remember a time before the NWA were in charge, and thus the most likely to be able to realise that Angel might be telling the truth. It's likely his thick accent probably played a part — Frank probably didn't talk to him all that much, he kept him around more as the translator for residents like Arthur Webley who have similarly-incomprehensible accents.
Nick recruiting the kids to spraypaint the cameras. At first it seems like he's just getting them with the promise of mischief. But considering the town's obsession with being perfect, the kids must have been really prevented from being able to do anything that would disrupt its image. And what's more, the NWA has shown it will kill minors who might lessen the town's chances of winning the contest. The kids were acting with Nick in self defence. This also ties in with an abandoned subplot. Originally, the leader of the hoodies was revealed to be the grandson of Tom Weaver, the man behind the cameras and civilian liaison between the NWA and the Sandford Police Service. Nick would discover this but wouldn't reveal it to Weaver, thereby gaining the hoodies' trust. Another bonus: the boy would've been called Gabriel, after one of the archangels.
Why couldn't the NWA members hit Angel? He did get hit twice, once after exposing himself from cover and then by Rev Shooter, from relatively close range by handguns. The NWA had most likely never used their guns before. It would be one thing to practice with them. Loud as they are, the countryside around Sandford is big enough to minimise disturbance and sport shooting is common in the British countryside, but their ammo is probably limited (see above explanation about firearms in the UK). It's also harder to make an 'accident' out of a fatal gunshot wound. A high suicide rate would reflect very badly on Sandford, and noise doesn't fit with their modus operandi In short, Possession Implies Mastery is being subverted here. At the same time, Frank is the only NWA member to accurately hit anything of a smaller size category than "the broadside of a barn" (the chandelier at the pub without looking). He's probably the only one with any kind of firearms training at all. The other officers provide indirect cover fire. We only ever see them shooting at the vastly underarmed supermarket staff, so there's less justification for them to shoot to kill. That, and they certainly know everyone involved.
The reason the other officers are so good at armed response is that Frank has been setting their training so that, with their skill sets, there's no way for them to transfer or be replaced. Thus, their actual aptitude in standard police work is kept to such a level that they're only useful as pawns under his control, keeping any other station from wanting them besides the obvious benefit to the NWA. And as the outside chance that they would ever leave Sandford is reduced, the chance that any replacements would come in from outside is also low, as what training they do have also makes them hard to replace. Ex: from what we can see of him, Sgt. Fisher might be described on paper as "highly trained in SWAT tactics and media relations"—who could replace that, and then all the way out in Gloucestershire? More obviously, that lack of standard policing knowledge also keeps them from believing Angel (or any officer not raised under Frank) for far too long, and ensures an impressive level of frustration for the newbie, which can create a handy and convenient excuse for quietly removing him from the picture (and making sure no one will really miss him), should he start to make too much trouble.
It's entirely possible Sgt. Popwell actually had his breakdown, and was then killed for the petty reason of being a public nuisance, not because he discovered anything sinister. Outside of Frank with his "GREAT BIG BUSHY BEARD!!" moment, Det. Wainwright mentions Sgt. Popwell during the Sandford Police Service's first lunch out together after Nicolas gets made Sergeant himself. However, the way in which Wainwright brings him up by saying "I bet you can't wait to jump into Sgt. Popwell's grave" lends credence to this idea. While it's unlikely that Danny, Doris, the Andys, Fisher, and Walker actually know that Popwell is dead, given that his corpse is down in the catacombs with Shoplifting Pete, the Human Statue, the young kids from the pub, the family of Travellers and their dog, etc., they've probably been led to believe that he had to leave Sandford or be sent away because rural policing made him go a bit 'round the twist and he became a nuisance and/or a danger to himself or others.
Except that Frank admits that Popwell knew (he says "Seargent Popwell felt much the same as you.")
When breaking up with Janine at the beginning of the film, Angel mentions that "guilty people often make the first move." The "guilty" people of Sandford (i.e. those working for the Greater Good) all initiate conversation first when meet Angel, thus making the first move with him themselves.
Adding to that, they also all make the first move in the final firefight. Mr Treacher at least, Angel makes the second move by diving behind cover.
Murdering everyone who's a nuisance to the town is a fairly obvious way of telling that Sandford's residents are very much keen on staying clean and pure but taking a look at the names of the members of the NWA can also net you a hint. Shooter, Treacher, Skinner, Weaver. These are all last names that originate from the time where last names started to become popular and getting a last name based on your profession was fairly common.
Frank Butterman never once outright lies about the murder-rate in Sandford. Every time murder is brought up he says, "There hasn't been a recorded murder in over twenty years." There were murders, dozens most likely, but the were never reported/recorded as such and wound up on the record as disappearances or nasty accidents.
We constantly see Angel with a radio over his right shoulder. So when he went to buy Danny a rubber plant (Japanese peace lily), why didn't he use it from inside the shop? That was the one time he was out in uniform but not in regulation vest and equipment, because he simply grabbed his jacket at the station and legged it to go buy Danny a gift.
When Angel turns away from the florist's counter to go and use the radio in his cruiser, the robed, hooded NWA member behind him would have been in plain sight to Leslie Tiller. Why didn't she scream, or try to defend herself? Because she was one of them. She thought the hooded member was there to give her the call to action, or perhaps to wish her farewell on her trip.
When you first see the "Splat the Rat" booth at the fete, you might be thinking that this is purely foreshadowing Tim Messenger's death as he gets splattered rather gruesomely. But when you examine the motives for killing him, you realise that this doesn't add up. He hasn't betrayed the town or the NWA in any way, meaning that he isn't a "rat" in any sense of the word. But then you realise who Messenger is speaking to at the time. Who gets murdered later on, for planning to take her gardening talents to another town, an act that would be very easy to see as a betrayal? Leslie Tiller. The "Splat the Rat" Booth isn't just foreshadowing Messenger's death, it's foreshadowing Tiller's as well.
When Angel's chasing the figure in the black hood, it's eventually revealed that it was multiple people, including one that was positioned properly to give the illusion that he was too far away for Angel to chase down (while the actual hooded figure was much closer). That seems really, really well-coordinated but the NWA has cameras everywhere, are really good at communicating (and many members carry radios with them everywhere), and likely had the route scouted out ahead of time for just that kind of getaway.
During Angel's conversation about why he became a police officer, he mentions "arresting kids twice (his) size for littering and spitting" and often getting beat up for it. This is similar to his later failed attempt to arrest the NWA conspirators while unarmed and with no backup, but on a much smaller scale.
At first, Nicholas finding out that his housing "wasn't ready" seems like an innocent way for a cheap laugh but by the climax and reveal it makes more sense. Of course it wasn't ready. They needed to see if the out-of-towner would be easy to manipulate, or if they had another Sgt. Popwell on their hands.
During the standoff in the pub, when the other officers are about to arrest Angel, they subsequently raise their face shields as he argues his case. It can easily be interpreted as the wool that was pulled over their eyes concerning the "accidents" is being removed by Angel's reasonings. Even Danny pulls off his sunglasses when he finally admits the truth that he ignored about the town. One by one they turn to Nick and Danny's side and the face shields are never pulled down again. Not even during the shootout in the store.
When Angel returns to Sandford to wreck up the place, he stops off at the police station to get the guns and body armour he'd need for such a confrontation but Danny doesn't. Yet he's still wearing his body armour in the car when Angel shows up on horseback in the village square. Why would Danny be wearing his body armour if he didn't know he was going to need it? Because earlier in the pub, Wainwright asks Angel why he's wearing body armour in the pub during the daytime, and Angel replies it's standard protocol that should be followed. We see that Danny idolises Angel all throughout the film, seeing him as some kind of super-cop who deals with danger every day of his life, like a film action hero come to life. He listens to everything Angel says and attempts to take it all in. The day after their argument at the fete, Danny is seen reading a police vocabulary book, the one that Angel references several times, in order to know the proper language he should be using while working. So why was Danny wearing his body armour? Because Angel would have worn his body armour, and Danny wants to be like Angel, so he did what Angel would do which is to obey the rules strictly. Therefore he wore his body armour on a day he didn't think he'd actually need it, because the rules said he had to.
Weaver is the only member of the NWA to die. And in a gruesome accident, which is their go-to for covering up the murders.
Skinner of the NWA gets a similar fate. In that although he does not die, he is one of the most wounded members of the organization in the end, although of his own doing - by stepping on a miniature truck and tripping, another 'accident'.
As pointed out by The Nostalgia Critic, the lack of deaths is probably because of how seriously Angel takes his job and wants as few casualties as possible.
The very first scene, where Nicholas is being told by his superiors at the Met that he's getting transferred out to Sandford, foreshadows the reveal behind Sandford. The cozy, 'moral' establishment make Nicholas disappear from their organisation for "the greater good" of their careers and reputations. Much like the NWA get rid of anyone who threatens to damage the reputation of the village.
At first, the evidence room being empty seems like a joke, that Sandford has no crimes, ergo no investigations, thus no evidence. But after the reveal comes out, we see that thought process was ALMOST right. There's no evidence... because there's no investigations. They just kill anyone they suspect of criminal activity and bury them where nobody will find them. Any evidence left behind would mean a thread someone like Angel would go tugging at
If Angel had waited even a few hours before going back to Sandford, the village might have won it's 'Village Of The Year' award again before he arrived. By turning up as early as he did, he ensured the place would be total chaos by the time the judges arrived. Even if Angel got killed and covered up like the others, Sandford wouldn't be the 'Village Of The Year' this time around
Throughout the film, notice how despite his joviality and friendliness, Frank Butterman always somehow manages to stick Angel with any demeaning, tedious and shitty job just guaranteed to tick him off, while the other officers get the easy stuff, the day off to enjoy the fete, ice cream, etc. In light of Frank's role as one of the NWA ringleaders, it's actually a clever ploy; he not only dulls the other officers' instincts and makes them resent Nick when he actually makes them do some work, he isolates Nick from the other officers, increases his resentment of and annoyance with them and either dulls his instincts or drives him out of his mind with boredom, thus making him seem increasingly irrational and diminishing his credibility. He also ensures that Nick will get so sick of the job that it would be entirely credible if he just up and 'disappeared' one day.
The town is screwed. Most of Sandford's important citizens (the police chief, supermarket manager, priest, etc) were members of the NWA and it's unlikely that they'll be released from jail anytime soon. Not to mention the public image of having a fascist cult running the town for twenty years. And wait 'til it gets out that all these murders by the NWA were done merely to win "Best Village in Britain", which is both a ridiculous and horrifying reason for all these people to go freaking bonkers and kill every single "nuisance". Pretty sure the contest judges won't welcome that revelation with a smile. They might just get traumatized at the idea that their contest was the reason for an incredibly large number of murders. Let's just say that village will never be "Best Village in Britain" ever again, and all of its previous winnings of the title might also be stripped.
Nicholas didn't seem that shocked for seeing Tim Messenger being brutally killed right in front of him. Did he encounter even worse murders in the metropolis?
The underage drinkers that Nicholas arrests at the beginning later show up dead at the hands of the NWA. Without realizing it, Nicholas accidentally sent them to their deaths. It's also possible he was dangerously close to getting Danny killed, too. Even with his familial connection. The Sgt. Turner on duty that night possibly saved Danny's life by letting him sleep it off in the holding cell. The kids were processed with the paper trail, Danny was not.
When Angel falls into a crypt filled with the corpses of people who pissed off the NWA, the camera focuses on a few notable individuals who have been seen or mentioned (Sgt. Popwell, The Living Statue, etc) throughout the film. However, if you observe from where the camera is focusing, youll see that there are actually a lot more skeletal remains down there, dozens in fact. The Fridge Horror sinks in when you realise how many people have been murdered by the NWA in the past, and their state of decomposition will make you wonder just how long this has been happening for.
Alternatively, it is a crypt hidden away in the catacombs of a fairly old castle. While the NWA have likely made some more recent contributions, some of those skeletons might simply be historical remains.
Which is still fridge horror when you think about how horrific the murders in medieval times were and that the NWA is similarly petty and homicidal.
At a meeting of the NWA, its mentioned that a townswoman has given birth to twin boys. Everyone seems happy, but Dr. Hatcher is one of the NWA. He brought many Sandford citizens into the world, and also killed many of them. If Angel had given up, then the boys could possibly have been killed by the NWA someday. Maybe even by the doctor who delivered them.
At one point when discussing Leslie Tiller's death, Sgt. Fisher tries to argue that she could have tripped and fallen on her own shears by remarking, "Ben Fletcher fell on his pitchfork the other week!". This was expanded into a running gag in the screenplay, with members of the Sandford Police citing recent events (for example, Gary Butcher drowning in his own septic tank) as proof that "accidents happen every day". It's only after finding out about the cult, that you realise these probably were not accidents.
Reverend Shooter says, "Tim, your number's up!" during the church fete's raffle. Watching it a second time, you know how Tim Messenger is about to be killed in less than a minute, and the reasons why. And the Reverend, along with many of the people in the crowd, knows exactly what's about to happen. And they're LAUGHING about it.