BASC has published the results of its third annual review of firearms licensing performance, which reveals a stark contrast between forces across England and Wales.

The association’s firearms team has obtained figures for firearm (FAC) and shotgun (SGC) certificate grants and renewals, coterminous renewals and variations.

Analysis of the data for individual police forces across England and Wales shows some improvement in 2018 compared to 2017, while other forces continue to experience longer than average processing times.

Nationally, the best performing forces based on average application processing times were Cleveland, Lancashire and Leicestershire.

The bottom three forces were South Wales, Dorset and West Midlands.

BASC firearms officer Rory O’Loughlin, who co-ordinated the research, said: “This year’s figures are a mixed bag but, on the whole, mostly positive.

“Last year was what we refer to as a ‘dip year’, where there is a reduced demand on firearms licensing departments.

“The first ‘dip period’ was created when certificate terms were changed from three to five years in duration. It created a vacuum in the process that repeats now on a cyclical basis.”

“Some forces are taking measures to balance out the peaks and troughs.”

Cumbria, Lincolnshire and Lancashire showed the greatest improvement in 2018 compared with 2017.

BASC’s research shows the mean average for FAC grants is 69 days. This remains the same as last year.

SGC grants showed slight improvement from a 68 day average in 2017 to 61 days in 2018 – a reduction of a week.

Coterminous grants also showed minor improvement at 58 days average compared with 63 days previously.

Renewals also showed an overall improvement in turn-around times with FACs being processed in an average of 48 days, down from 53 days previously.

SGC renewals were better still, showing a 39 day average compared with 43 days at last review.

Coterminous renewals averaged 46 days compared with 52 days previously. Finally, variation waiting remained stable at 12 days on average (13 days previously).

BASC’s head of firearms Paul Dale said: “It is encouraging to see an overall improvement in performance but it remains disappointing to see the huge difference in turnaround times.

“Those forces that are under performing should liaise with the more efficient forces to identify ways in which they can streamline their processes and improve the service they provide.

All forces should be striving towards providing an efficient, cost-effective, robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.’’

BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC added: “This is the third year we have conducted this research and while some numbers and some forces are still very disappointing it is important to remember that we are now engaging with them to help them turn things around.

“We will continue to work with all forces across the UK to ensure our members get the best and shortest processing times.”

The new table is based on figures from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018 and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cells shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days.

Click here for the full table.