There is a greater number of delays within firearms licensing today. BASC’s firearms team explains what to do if your renewal is delayed.
Early submission of renewal requests next year will give police licensing teams a better chance to turn them around before certificates expire. Respond as soon as possible to a renewal reminder pack or, even better, prepare and submit your request early. You can download the forms here, complete them, sort out counter-signatory/referees, add photos and payment and get ready to submit them in plenty of time. Always post by recorded delivery. These can usually be tracked online.
To help the police renew your certificates in time we recommend that you get your renewal applications to them at least 12 weeks before the expiry of your certificate. Do not wait for police reminder letters.
When sending renewal forms back, do not return your expiring certificates. You need them to both buy ammunition and to prove lawful possession of your guns. The law allows police to seize your firearms if you are unable to produce a certificate on demand. It is always advisable to carry original certificates with you. Although the evidence of a copy should be acceptable in many instances, the legal right to seize and detain your guns remains unless you produce the original.
However, it may help the licensing department to process renewals or variations if you provide photocopies of existing certificates. Add a note with your application saying that you are retaining the originals until the new ones are issued.
The law (The Firearms Amendment Rules 2014) does not require you to return the expiring certificates with your application. In the case of shotguns the rules state that renewal applications should be accompanied by the expiring certificate “if it is available”. The need to buy ammunition and to show lawful possession means that the expiring certificate is not available. If you need advice on this or any other issue, please call BASC’s firearms team on 01244 573010 with your membership number to hand.
It is an offence for anyone to be in possession of a firearm without the appropriate authority. Any advice that it is acceptable to continue keeping your guns without a valid certificate should be ignored, even if your renewal has been submitted.
If your certificate should expire before a valid replacement is in your possession, you should ask for a temporary permit, issued under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968. It should be granted in the event of an administrative delay.
The Home Office guidance to the police: ‘Guide to Firearms Licensing Law‘ directs that a permit should be issued where an applicant has submitted an application in good time. Issuing a Section 7 is a simple remedy to prevent someone falling on the wrong side of the law.
What if my certificate is delayed?
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 amended the Firearms Act 1968 to provide for limited extensions of the validity of firearm and shotgun certificates.
The extension will only apply where an application is made to the police for the renewal of a certificate at least eight weeks before the certificate is due to expire, but the police are unable to decide the application before the certificate expires. In these circumstances, the validity of the certificate is automatically extended for a period of eight weeks or until the police decide the application, whichever occurs first. The certificate’s terms and conditions will continue to apply during this period. When the renewal is subsequently granted, any period for which the certificate continued in force under the eight-week extension, will be treated as part of the period for which the renewed certificate is in force, meaning that the total renewal period of a renewed certificate would be five years.
In the event that the application for renewal cannot be determined before the extended certificate expires, police forces may continue to issue a temporary permit to the applicant under section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968 authorising their continued possession of firearms and ammunition to which the expired certificate applies.
These provisions do not apply in relation to the renewal of a certificate granted or last renewed in Northern Ireland.
Police firearms licensing departments should automatically issue a confirmation letter to applicants to prove the extension applies. If you do not receive such a letter in the week running up to the expiry of your certificate you should request one from your firearms licensing department.
Section 7 permits: Are you entitled to one?
Temporary permits should be issued if delays have occurred in the police system.
A permit does not authorise the purchase or acquisition of new firearms or ammunition but shotgun ammunition can be purchased if you have a temporary permit.
The Home Office Guidance says:
10.61 “If a certificate expires before a renewed certificate has been issued and the certificate holder has behaved in a reasonable manner returning the forms in good time, a temporary permit (section 7 Permit) should be issued by default. With regard to renewal, the applicant may submit a photocopy of their certificate and retain the expiring certificate in order to be able to buy ammunition.”
15.4 “Permits should be issued by chief officers where a certificate has not been re-issued or where a variation has been delayed and the applicant has made the application in good time. This may be appropriate where the renewal of a certificate is so delayed that the applicant may otherwise be left without permission to continue possessing and using their firearm and ammunition. This may not be the case where the applicant or his referees had been uncooperative and, is, or are, substantially responsible for the delay. In these circumstances, the applicant should be advised to arrange for the firearms and ammunition to be placed in storage with a registered firearms dealer or another suitably authorised certificate holder.”
Advice on obtaining a Section 7 temporary permit
BASC’s advice is that if your certificate is delayed by the administrative process, you should always make a written request for a temporary permit. These are the things you need to do:
- Supply the date your extension expires.
- Request the immediate renewal of the certificates or the issue of a Section 7 permit to prevent you from possessing firearms without a valid certificate.
- If you are met with refusal – politely advise that if a Section 7 permit is not issued then you will be obliged to consider submitting a formal complaint.
Refusal to grant a Section 7 permit and unreasonably long delays
Firstly consider contacting your Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), they employ chief constables and must hold them to account for poor service. You as council tax payers and voters employ the PCC and, as such, they work for you. Telling your PCC about your experiences will count. The more people who do so, the greater effect it will have at improving the resources needed by firearms licensing departments. Often firearm licensing staff are not at fault, they need the necessary support to function.
Any complaint against a refusal to issue a Section 7 permit or because of rude or dismissive attitudes from police staff should be made in writing. You should be able to find details on the force’s website. BASC can’t make the complaint for you but we will advise you how to do it.
Making a justified complaint will also highlight areas where the police might improve their service.
Contact us by phone: 01244 573010 or by email.
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