Shotgun and firearm certificates should be valid for ten years, rather than the current five, in order to improve enforcement, boost public safety and cut the administrative burden and cost for police forces, according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
BASC has made a formal proposal on the issue to the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as part of its “focus on enforcement” initiative.
Richard Ali, BASC chief executive, said: “Extending the life of a firearm certificate from five to ten years would reduce the administrative and cost burden on the police, allowing them to better target their resources and result in improved protection of public safety.”
“The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) argued for the extension of a certificate from three to five years. This was introduced in 1995, on the basis that it would improve public safety while reducing bureaucracy. Extending a certificate to ten years would allow the police to focus on checking on potential problem cases rather than being caught in an endless whirl of bureaucracy”
“There have been significant advances in police databases, intelligence and reporting since certificate life was extended from three years to five. The police now receive notification of any individual certificate holder who comes to their attention and can quickly act to revoke a certificate or remove firearms as necessary.”
“BASC is uniquely placed to offer an opinion on the management of firearms licensing across the UK. We have the regulatory expertise and the only full-time firearms department offering advice to certificate applicants and holders. We currently deal with some 500 calls every month.”
“Certificate holders have to be law-abiding people and the overwhelming majority of certificates are regularly renewed. Less than 1% of certificates are revoked each year and there are almost 800,000 certificates on issue in England, Scotland and Wales.”
“Firearms licensing must do two things. It must protect public safety and also allow the continued lawful use of firearms. Shooting is integral to life in Britain. It is essential to conservation. People who shoot spend £250 million pounds from their own pockets every year on conservation work. Shooting brings income to local economies and contributes to food safety and security by protecting crops and livestock from pests and predators.”
“It is vital that the administration of the licensing system is managed properly, that police costs are kept down and that no excessive financial burden is placed on individual certificate holders.”
“BASC’s proposal for a ten-year certificate would meet all of these requirements, driving down costs and making administration more streamlined, while allowing the police to concentrate on effective monitoring and enforcement. It is for these reasons that we have made our submission to Government.”
- In England, Scotland and Wales there were 791,022 shotgun and firearm certificates on issue in 2012/13.
- In Northern Ireland there are 59,585 firearm certificates on issue.
- A certificate currently costs £50 and lasts for five years.
- Certificates can be revoked and firearms removed by the police at any point.
- Firearms licensing is currently affected by regular peaks and troughs of activity from year-to-year as five-year certificates come up for renewal. Some police licensing departments lay-off expert staff in the troughs and recruit to fill gaps in the peaks.