Firearms licensing is in crisis, BASC tells Parliamentary Committee inquiry

Firearms licensing application form

A “largely unprofessional, overburdened and poorly resourced police licensing service puts public safety at risk”, BASC has told a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into policing priorities.

BASC’s written submission to the inquiry is a broad sweeping critique of the current situation across the 43 firearms licensing departments in England and Wales.

The inquiry is focusing on the state of policing in England and Wales, highlighting low public confidence and damaging high-profile cases. It will examine what a modern police service should look like and how to ensure the highest standards amongst police officers.

BASC’s submission, which has now been published, concludes:

“Firearms licensing is in crisis. The 43 licensing authorities in England and Wales are unable to manage their workload, with some refusing to process grants and many taking more than a year to process renewals. A largely unprofessional, overburdened and poorly resourced police licensing service puts public safety at risk.”

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “Although firearms licensing is only a microcosm of the total policing output, the issues raised by the Home Affairs Committee are reflective of the current licensing system we are witnessing.

“While the committee will most likely stick to producing higher level recommendations, BASC felt it necessary to feed its view of the current state of firearms licensing into the process.

“BASC’s written submission will make tough reading for many chief constables and firearms licensing managers. It highlights the current delays and significant inconsistencies across the 43 firearms licensing departments.

“BASC proposes the establishment of an independent regulatory body to oversee licensing departments. This will help begin to rebuild trust with the shooting community and boost performance and standards – key aims of the Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry.”

In an oral evidence session on the inquiry last year, the chief executive at the College of Policing, Andy Marsh, said it was looking at annual assessment and accreditation of firearms licensing officers. This was welcomed by BASC, you can read more here.