Ask the experts: Firearms certificate process

Q I’ve been waiting for my firearms certificate to arrive for months now, with no joy. Is there anything I can do to speed the process along? I don’t want to irritate my firearms department and see myself put on a black list, but waiting doesn’t seem to be doing much good.

A Stuart says: You’re not alone in your predicament. Among the biggest frustration for both new and seasoned shooters are the delays they face in licensing. For new shooters, with some areas taking up to nine months to issue a license, it can mean they give up altogether, while for those trying to renew their certificates, the delays can cause huge problems.

In the short term, there’s no harm in engaging in polite dialogue with your local Firearms Licensing department if you are waiting for your certificate to appear. Further on the horizon, we could – fingers crossed – see improvements come about to the overall situation.

First, these could come from the NPCC’s training programme for licensing staff, all of whom will be expected to complete an accredited course which will teach good practice. This should help in achieving consistency in the application of the Firearms Acts. An online program for certificate applications and renewals, currently being tested by the Met, will help speed up the process too.

The situation is grim, and something of a postcode lottery. But improvement is possible, as demonstrated by Essex constabulary, who halved their waiting times after they were singled out as the slowest in the country in 2016. They are now in the top five for turnaround times.

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