Concerns over firearms licensing delays and police performance in Northern Ireland were raised at a meeting between the PSNI Chief Superintendent responsible for service improvements and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin is in charge of improving service delivery for the PSNI in areas including firearms licensing and professional standards. He and the deputy head of the PSNI Firearms and Explosives Branch (FEB), Emma Newell, met BASC NI Director Tommy Mayne at PSNI headquarters.
BASC raised a number of issues including delays and inconsistencies in processing licence applications, the lack of accountability of PSNI staff and proposed increases in firearms licensing fees. BASC also discussed PSNI’s failure to carry out a proper consultation before attempting to implement a controversial new security specification for firearms dealers.
Speaking after the meeting Tommy Mayne said: “This was a useful opportunity for BASC to engage directly with the PSNI and raise the concerns of our members and trade members.
“There is a significant amount of dissatisfaction about the performance of PSNI’s firearms licensing operation and we believe that they are falling short of the standards expected of a public service. Government guidance sets out standards that a public service must meet and these include accountability, transparency, fairness, openness and objectivity.
“BASC has previously raised a number of complaints with the police ombudsman. However it took eleven months before these were formally discussed with the police. Those complaints remain unresolved and this is not acceptable.
“PSNI failed to undertake a genuine consultation before attempting to impose new security specifications for firearms dealers, damaging relations with the gun trade. The long delays and inconsistencies in processing applications are a cause of great concern and we hope PSNI will put in place measures to address this.
“At the same time there are proposals to introduce significant increases in the fees paid for the firearms licensing service provided by PSNI. These vastly exceed those agreed for the rest of the UK and BASC believes the proposals for NI are unrealistic and need further scrutiny.
“BASC wants to see an efficient service which is fair and delivers good value for money from a department which is accountable. There is some way to go before this is achieved. We will continue to work towards this goal with the PSNI, the Department of Justice, the Committee for Justice, the All Party Group on Country Sports, Countryside Alliance Ireland and the Gun Trades Guild NI.”
For more information please call Tommy Mayne at BASC NI on 028 9260 5050 or the BASC press office on 01244 573052