Firearms licensing slows down

Cambridgeshire Police emerged as the country’s best performing firearms licensing team, while Durham Police have come out at the bottom of the league table according to new figures from BASC.

The top performing three forces, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire all took well under a month to issue a new shotgun certificate, to renew firearm and shotgun or firearm certificates or to process a variation. These three forces operate a joint firearms licensing service.

Warwickshire, City of London, Thames Valley, Essex and Lincolnshire were also good performers all processing new firearm certificate applications in an average of fewer than 50 days and new shotgun certificate applications in under 40 days.

At the other end of the spectrum, Greater Manchester Police took 164 days to grant a shotgun certificate, and Avon and Somerset Police took 161 days to grant a new firearm certificate. Looking across the range of firearms licensing services, Durham was the worst performing force renewal times of over 200 days, dragging the force’s performance downwards.

Durham Police’s performance was described by one reader as “Absolutely dreadful. Took over a year for renewal, with some civvy asking me to ‘look him in the eye to see if I was lying.’

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “This current crop of figures reveals a wide spectrum of performance from the very good to the shockingly dreadful.

“Certificate holders in England and Wales face a postcode lottery as to the level of service that they will receive from local law enforcement. This cannot be right when people’s taxes are what pay for a service from the police.

The consistency of their performance needs to be achieved across the piece. It is interesting that those forces who have combined their firearms licensing departments into alliances tend to perform better. This strongly suggests that the solution to the problem is for firearms licensing to be dealt with on a national basis.”

Overall, the performance of firearms licensing teams fell significantly from last year, which was perhaps driven by Covid-related disruption.


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