The Home Office Minister responsible for firearms licensing, Nick Hurd MP, has announced in a written answer to a parliamentary question that fees for licensing are being reviewed.
In its response, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has highlighted that licensing fees were last reviewed and increased in 2015.
At that time, the Home Office brought together a working group with representatives from BASC, other shooting organisations and the police. This group costed each process for the anticipated online licensing system which the police intended to introduce to reach full-cost recovery under the new system. These figures were used to encourage the police to press forward with the introduction of the system.
Three years later, that system has yet to be introduced, but it remains the police intention to do so.
BASC also notes that the HMIC inspection of firearms licensing in the same year (2015) branded the licensing system as “inconsistent and inadequate”. A report by Her Majesy’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) identified police forces that didn’t comply with Home Office guidance – with massive variation in efficiency, with some processing applications in as little as five days and others taking 165 days.
BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “This postcode lottery in service to firearms users is still in place. The system should not be rewarded for inadequacy, inconsistency and inefficiency. The Home Office must take this opportunity to ensure that certificate holders and applicants receive the service they are paying for.
“BASC expects the Home Office to bring the working group back into existence. We expect widespread inefficiencies in service to be sorted out before an increase in fees is agreed.”