BASC has today told The Times newspaper there is no factual basis to claims the police are subsidising firearms licensing.
The newspaper has reported that David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for West Midlands, said that forces in England and Wales will face a £10 million shortfall this year because the cost of administering the licence regime is not covered by fees.
But BASC has highlighted how some forces have failed to make the efficiency savings in their licensing processes promised the last time fees were agreed by a Home Office working group in 2015.
In particular, there has been a widespread failure to implement e:commerce systems which would reduce the cost of licensing while also speeding up the process for applicants.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “We have chaos in medical testing, poor efficiency in many forces and only four out of forty- three forces have introduced online systems that were promised the last time fees were raised.”
“We told the Times that David Jamieson’s claim that police forces are subsidising firearms licensing has no basis in fact.
“When the fee was last set, it was derived from figures worked out by a Home Office working group composed of expert stakeholder representatives who identified and then costed out every process within firearms licensing.
“There were several police licensing representatives in the group, chosen for their specialist knowledge. The current firearms licensing manager for West Midlands Police was one of them.
“There was also a small increment within this evidence-led fee that was to cover efficiencies made from the adoption of an e:commerce approach. Those efficiencies have yet to be made.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “The administration of the Firearms Acts by the police is characterised by a lack of consistency which still allows inefficiencies – many dating from the 1980s – to continue to happen.
“We also told the Times that as firearms licensing is done for the public good, namely for the prevention of crime and the preservation of public safety, it is proper that the public purse should bear a proportion of the costs incurred.”
BASC publishes an annual review of firearms licensing performance which this year shows a stark contrast between England and Wales. It can be seen here.