A paper from the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (ACPO FELWG) has proposed increasing the cost of obtaining a shotgun or firearm certificate from £50 to £93.80.
This represents just over half of the calculated cost of a licence, which is £189 – whereas when fees were set at the current level in 2001, shooters paid only a third of the calculated cost.
Under the new fee structure a certficate renewal would cost £66, while a Registered Firearms Dealer grant would rise to £274.
The paper acknowledged that there are “existing inefficiencies within firearms licensing”, and said that shooters should not bear the cost of these. It proposed a number of measures to improve efficiency, including online completion of application forms, the ability to pay fees online, the ability to automate renewals online and the ability to keep applicants up to date with the progress of their application.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation reacted angrily to the news, drawing attention to the fact that the fee rise was three times the rate of inflation since the fees were set at the current level.
An NGO spokesperson said: “In recent months the licensing process in many police force areas has become shambolic. Certificate renewals are running more than six months behind and some forces are developing their own licensing policies contrary to Home Office and ACPO guidance.
“Others have been telling our members not to worry that their certificates are late, despite it being an offence to be in possession of firearms without a certificate.
“Firearms licensing is woefully inefficient in some force areas and savings could easily be made. This is what ACPO FELWG should be addressing, looking to cut costs rather than passing them on to hard-pressed gun users.”
David Taylor of the Countryside Alliance recently said: “Full cost recovery in the licensing system is unfair to gun owners. The shooting community accepts that it must pay its part for the licensing system, but as it is imposed to protect the public, then it is only right that the public purse should share the cost.
“It must also be noted that many inefficiencies exist in the current licensing process. Any rise in fees will only be acceptable if these are addressed and matched with a subsequent increase in the quality of service provided.”