BASC Scotland has highlighted three positive recommendations outlined in a report on firearms licensing which was published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS).
Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, said: “The report contains 24 recommendations. BASC Scotland welcomes, in particular, the development of a comprehensive performance framework for licensing, the publication of the standards that the shooting community should expect and an assessment of satisfaction with the service provided.
“The background to this report is the formation of Police Scotland (in 2013), policy change in 2015 and, of course, the introduction of air weapon licensing in 2017. While the report does make a comprehensive series of recommendations that includes setting the standards that we, as shooters, should expect of Police Scotland and recommendations on the training of enquiry officers it should also be recognised that there have been some significant improvements in the service we receive.”
Dr Shedden said, in particular, he welcomed the fact that a reported 98.7% of all certificates are renewed prior to expiry, thereby avoiding the need for guns to be stored with a dealer or temporary permits issued. He also welcomed the report’s recognition that there had been a 74% decrease in crimes and offences involving firearms over the last ten years.
Dr Shedden said the report acknowledged that the Scottish Firearms Practitioners’ Group, currently chaired by BASC, “plays a valuable role” and that it could either be expanded or become an independent advisory group. He said BASC would welcome expansion of the group to include all parties with an interest in firearms licensing issues.
He added: “Overall this report highlights some areas where licensing in Scotland is working well and welcomes the “significant step forward in protecting the public in Scotland” by assessing an applicant’s medical history before considering the grant or renewal of a certificate.
This is one area that attracted 230 negative comments from those who responded to a questionnaire, primarily relating to the charges made by some GPs when responding to licensing enquiries, though HMICS recognises that this aspect is out with Police Scotland’s control.
“Finally, the report recommends that steps should be taken to ensure consistency with respect to the granting of air weapon certificates.”
Cara Richardson, chair of BASC’s Scotland committee, also welcomed the report and said: “BASC Scotland looks forward to working with Police Scotland and other stakeholders to ensure that there is even greater consistency and efficiency within firearms licensing in Scotland in the future.
Consistency has improved through the eight legacy police forces in Scotland becoming one but there are areas where efficiency could also be improved, including the processing of visitor permits for those coming to Scotland to shoot or stalk deer.”