BASC has challenged claims by a Police and Crime Commissioner that there is a national shortfall of more than £6 million in firearm licensing revenue.
David Jamieson, PCC of West Midlands Police, is calling for an increase in the fees charged for firearms and shotgun certificates to “ensure forces aren’t subsidising gun ownership”.
Mr Jamieson says that with an average loss of £36.85 per application, West Midlands is losing almost £100,000-a-year and uses that figure to suggest national losses of £6.4 million.
However, BASC has highlighted that West Midlands sat on a Home Office working group in 2014 that examined process costs before agreeing suitable fees across England, Wales and Scotland.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “It is quite alarming that the PCC for West Midlands can use inefficiencies in his force to justify wild claims for significant losses at a national level.
“If West Midlands are not making ends meet from fee levels deemed suitable by the working group, then his force has introduced an inefficiency into the process which has caused it to cost more than it should.
“West Midlands still carry out some administratively inefficient processes, for example land checks, invoking unnecessary conditions on firearm certificates and a failure to introduce ‘e-commerce’. Perhaps they should be examining failures closer to home.”
BASC has also challenged Mr Jamieson’s assertion that the police are subsidising gun ownership.
Mr Harriman added: “As firearms licensing is done for the public good, the prevention of crime and the preservation of public safety, then it is right that the public purse should bear a portion of the cost.
“To describe any excess cost as subsidising certificate holders is entirely wrong. It is actually a wise contribution towards public safety. Treasury Rules are clear on the matter in that no fee may be charged for enforcement. Therefore, the enforcement part of the licensing system cannot form part of the component of a fee.
“The notion that PCCs could increase fees on a police-by-force basis does not bear scrutiny. It would simply encourage administrative inconsistency and reward inefficiency.”