Succinct advice on the law surrounding the storage of civil explosives in the UK, including requirements for record-keeping.
Firearms licensing is in crisis right now, with many of the 43 licensing authorities in England and Wales unable to manage their workload, with some refusing to process grants and many taking more than a year to process renewals.
So, what can you do to give yourself the best chance of getting your renewal approved sooner rather than later?
An early submission of renewal requests will give police licensing teams a better chance to turn them around before certificates expire. We recommend getting renewals in at least 20-24 weeks before the expiry date of your certificate.
So, make sure you respond to renewal reminders as soon as possible or, even better, you can 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.
- Note that many forces have the facility to apply on-line. Members who can use this service are encouraged to do so, as it makes the application process more efficient and provides a audit trail of the application process. Further advice on applications and renewals can be found on the interactive guide on the BASC website.
When sending renewal forms back, do not return your expiring certificates because you will need them to buy ammunition and prove lawful possession of your guns in the meantime.
The law allows police to seize your firearms if you are unable to produce a certificate on demand and 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.
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.
What if my certificate is delayed?
If your certificate expires before a valid replacement is in your possession, you should ask for a temporary permit, issued under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968.
Home office guidance states it should be granted in the event of an administrative delay, where an applicant has submitted their application at least eight weeks before the certificate is due to expire, to prevent the licensee from falling on the wrong side of the law.
In these circumstances, the certificate is automatically extended for a period of eight weeks or until the police decide the application, whichever occurs first. The original 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.
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.
Section 7 permits
- Temporary permits should only be issued if delays have occurred in the police system.
- A temporary permit does not authorise the purchase or acquisition of new firearms or ammunition, except shotgun cartridges.
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.”
How to obtain a Section 7 temporary permit
If your certificate is delayed by the administrative process, you should make a written request for a temporary certificate which includes the date your certificate expires.
If you are met with a refusal – politely advise that if a Section 7 permit is not issued then you will be obliged to consider submitting a formal complaint.
What if my section 7 permit is refused or I face unreasonably long delays?
Firstly, you should consider contacting your Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), they employ chief constables and we must hold them to account for poor service.
You as council taxpayers and voters employ the PCC and, as such, they work for you and telling your PCC about your experiences will count. The more people who do so, the greater effect it will have on improving the resources needed by firearms licensing departments.
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.
If your application has been made in good time and the delay is the police’s fault, you should also consider applying to the small-claims court to pay for the storage of firearms because a Section 7 permit is not issued.
You should be able to find details on the force’s website, while BASC can’t make the complaint for you we can advise you how to do it.
Making a justified complaint will also highlight areas where the police might improve their service.
Contact the firearms team by phone on 01244 573010 or by email.