Email sent to George Monbiot of the Guardian.
Dear Mr Monbiot,
I am writing to raise a couple of points about your latest column on “cash for grouse scandal”, particularly about shotgun certificate fees. More lies below the surface than the obvious taxpayer subsidy line.
I represent the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). Our membership is drawn from all sectors of society and does not reflect the “shotguns are posh” stereotype, which you employ.
BASC has always acknowledged that an increase in certificate fees is due, given the last increase was in 2001. What we were not prepared to accept on blind faith were the cost figures put forward by the police last year, recycled without question by the Guardian last week and again by yourself. It can equally be argued that the taxpayer is subsidising police inefficiency in the administration of shotgun certificate fees.
The figures quoted appear to have been based on cost estimates from the most inefficient police forces. Each constabulary administers its own firearms licensing and there is great disparity on service delivery and efficiency between constabularies. BASC has been campaigning for a “Fair price for a fair service”.
A fees order was postponed last year (whether the prime minister played a role or not is beyond my information, I assume you have checked it?). The decision was taken in order that the police should provide full and transparent costings, rather than everyone taking their word on how much is spent on administering the licence system.
The story is also not a new one. A process of examining those costs and service delivery has been under way since last Autumn through a Home Office working group.
Norman Baker’s recent briefing to the Guardian appears to have neglected this fact, although his position was later qualified on a broadcast interview on Radio 2 during which he acknowledged that police delivery and efficiency must improve.
I would be pleased to provide information or comment when you revisit shooting issues.
Head of press
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation
You can read George Monbiot’s column here.
To see a BASC press release on this issue (Oct 2013) click here.