Firearms licensing fees must be set on the basis of sound evidence and due process in line with the principles of better regulation and Treasury guidelines according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has suggested that an increase in fees could “help to save” the jobs of one thousand police officers.
BASC Chairman Alan Jarrett said: “The purpose of the firearms certificate fees is to fund the process of administering them. The fees are not intended to be put into a general pot to cover policing costs or spending deficits.”
“There is a collaborative process underway through a Home Office Working Group to examine the level of costs and fees which involves the police and shooting organisations. This process has identified the costs of administering the licence fees and the necessary processes involved. This process has been established in line with Treasury guidelines and the principles of better regulation set out by the last Labour government. ”
Licensing fees are currently £50 for the grant of a five-year shotgun or firearm certificate.
BASC chief executive Richard Ali said: “Certificate holders are willing to pay a fair price for a fair service and the process of examining and discussing costs and income has also involved the police identifying ways to reduce their costs and deliver a better service – for example by introducing e-commerce payments where people can pay online instead of the current requirement for payment by cheque.”
“BASC recognises that an increase in fees is due, even if just to cover inflation. The last increase was in 2001. We have fully engaged with the comprehensive review of cost and processes and we hope that an agreement will be reached in the near future.”
“BASC also believes that introducing a ten-year certificate would be a positive move which would significantly reduce administrative costs without any impact on public safety.”
At the Rural Reception hosted by BASC and the Angling Trust at the Labour conference on Monday, shadow Defra minister Angela Smith MP said Labour would form policy on shooting with an evidence-based approach. She said: “I also want to make it clear that the approach we take on shooting…is evidence based. I’m not talking about partial evidence – I’m talking about a robust evidence base.”
At the reception Diana Johnson MP, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, said she wanted to see BASC and policy makers continue to work together where both parties “have an interest in making sure that we have the most effective licensing system that we can – that it is efficient and people feel that when they pay their fees they get a good service”.
Richard Ali said: “We welcome Labour’s commitment to an evidence-based approach to policy and we will work with Labour policy makers to ensure that applies to firearms licensing fees.”
“The current review process being undertaken through the Home Office fees working group is based on solid evidence, the principles of better regulation and on a cooperative approach. Labour’s shadow ministry teams have indicated their strong support for this approach. ”
For more information, please call the BASC press office on 01244 573052