A decision by the Home Office to postpone an increase in firearms certificate fees to allow further work on costs and the role of medical advice in the licensing process has been welcomed by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
The cost of a shotgun or firearms certificate, currently £50 for a five-year certificate, has not risen since 2001. Police forces have been lobbying for a significant fees increase. A working group will be set up to examine police costs for administering the service and to investigate how GPs can be more involved in the licensing process without adding unduly to their responsibilities or penalising applicants.
BASC chief executive Richard Ali said: “We welcome the constructive approach which the Home Office and Government have taken towards this complex issue. They have listened to the concerns of law-abiding gun owners and set out a realistic way forward. The real costs of police administration can now be examined, inefficiencies tackled and improvements made.
“BASC recognises that an increase in firearms licensing fees is due, but we believe any rise should be linked to better police efficiency and effectiveness in delivering the licensing service. Firearms licensing must do two things: protect public safety and ensure the continued lawful ownership and use of firearms. Shooting helps to protect crops and our food supply and brings acknowledged benefits to conservation and biodiversity. BASC believes lawful gun owners should pay a fair price for a fair service, but we know that the standard of service varies dramatically across different police forces.”