BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation with a membership of more than 144,000, has criticised Ann Barnes, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, for her lack of understanding of the police role in firearms licensing and the poor performance of Kent Police’s firearms licencing team under her watch.
BASC is the only organisation collecting information on the performance of licensing teams across the country; Kent is proportionately one of the worst performing licencing teams according to BASC figures.
Ann Barnes claims that “there are more than 70,000 licensed guns in Kent” and that the police force subsidises the licensing of guns by “more than £300,000”. In fact, no guns are licensed. Under the law people are licensed to own guns. There are up to 27,000 certificate holders in Kent who pay a fee set in 2015 on the basis of full-cost recovery under ecommerce, an efficiency measure which Kent police have yet to implement.
When fees were set, they were based on figures supplied by the police for the average cost of firearms licensing. If the amounts paid to Kent police fall far short of the costs they incur providing licensing, then it shows that their processes are inefficient compared to police performance nationally.
Gary Ashton, BASC’s Director of Firearms Operations, said: “As the Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes is charged with securing the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force for Kent. Inefficiency in firearms licensing, worse than the national average, is her responsibility and the buck stops with her. Seeking to blame lawful firearms owners and screw more money out of them to cover up failures is an evasion of Ms Barnes’ responsibilities.”