shotgun_certificateA Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Countryside Alliance has highlighted which police forces’ firearms licensing departments are under-performing. A clear symptom of an inefficient licensing service is the issuing of large numbers of Section 7 Temporary Permits as a result of delays in processing licence renewals, so the Alliance asked all police forces how many of these permits had been issued over the last five years and how many are live now.

In 2015 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) published a report entitled ‘Targeting the Risk’, which revealed that seven out of the eleven forces questioned admitted their licensing teams were under pressure. We wanted to explore the extent of the issue to get a better understanding on how this was affecting our members.

The table below shows the results we received, broken down into how many Section 7 Temporary Permits were granted by each police force over the past five years. The forces have been ranked in descending order of how many were issued in the most recent year, 2015. A department failing to process a renewal in the allotted time will result in the police having to issue a Section 7 Temporary Permit, so if the number of permits granted are high it shows a failing service. A Temporary Permit will allow you to keep hold of Section 1 and 2 firearms and ammunition, but it will not allow you to hold, use or buy Section 5 firearms and ammunition (which includes expanding ammunition which is necessary by law for stalking deer). This inability to use authorised items because of the failure of the police is unacceptable, especially when you consider the results below of the high numbers of Temporary Permits granted last year.

The Countryside Alliance has sent letters to the Chief Constables of the six worst performing licensing departments, copied to the relevant Police and Crime Commissioners, Members of Parliament and Police and Crime Commissioner Candidates, asking what action is being taken to redress this situation and improve the service being provided to shooting community. We will keep our members informed as we receive responses.

Please Note – Not all Police Forces have responded to the FOI, and some refused to disclose the number of Section 7 Temporary Permits granted.If you are unhappy with this please do contact your force.

POLICE FORCE201020112012201320142015
Essex90641601373895219
Kent10112611666613008*
Thames Valley7934123682202702516
Hampshire7994763103191205
Dyfed Powys1171141339651993
North Wales48126176111172816
Devon and Cornwall345536558419363532
West Mercia370180247177287508
Dorset571111196797463
North Yorkshire221263272142144375
Durham7113320297301
Surrey834324712266207
Warwickshire53362258105199
Suffolk6056997055112
West Midlands3144416357111
Gloucestershire130280846838105
Norfolk653847464384
Lancashire97149115421566
Gwent204272176831459
Northamptonshire432342412355
NottinghamshireN/A324791664354
Sussex766638N/A2952
South Yorkshire11526142745
Metropolitan212431321345
Wiltshire442449442940
Cambridgeshire515136303339
Cheshire332661101223
Bedfordshire191410151220
Leicestershire9111391217
Hertfordshire172418181016
Northumbria2282319111012
Derbyshire001200
Cleveland010000

* For period 1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016