FAC costs could go up…again

The government is considering raising the price of a firearms licence, just five years after the last increase.

The Home Office has announced that a review of fees will take place next year, after police chiefs claimed they were subsidising the firearms licensing system. The Countryside Alliance said the timing of the review couldn’t be worse, when “the current licensing process lies in tatters and the shooting community receive a sub-par service.”

An article in The Times quoted that David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for West Midlands, as saying forces in England and Wales will face a £10 million shortfall this year.

BASC was quick to highlight that forces might not be losing money if they were operating as efficiently as expected. “We have chaos in medical testing, poor efficiency in many forces and only four out of 43 forces have introduced online systems that were promised the last time fees were raised,” said Christopher

Graffius, BASC’s director of communications. “When the fee was last set, it was derived from figures worked out by a Home Office working group composed of expert stakeholder representatives who identified and then costed out every process within firearms licensing.

“There was a small increment within this evidence-led fee that was to cover efficiencies made from the adoption of an e-commerce approach. Those efficiencies have yet to be made.”

The Countryside Alliance, meanwhile, questioned the timing of the fee review when licensing is still in such a poor state. Chief executive, Tim Bonner, said: “Licence holders cannot be expected to pay the cost of the abject failure to reform outdated, inefficient and obsolete processes. The time is long past when firearms licensing should be operating with the same benefits of technology as every other part of our lives.”

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