The Countryside Alliance has questioned the timing of a review of firearms licence fees, which the Home Office has announced will take place next year, whilst the current licensing process lies in tatters and the shooting community receive a sub-par service.
In a written response to the cost of firearms licensing published this week (11th April), the Minister for Policing, Nick Hurd MP, said; ‘we will be looking at the overall costs to the police of their firearms licensing functions when we next review firearms licensing fees in 2020’.
The previous review in 2015 led to the current fee levels, and were made on the presumption that, alongside a fully functioning online licensing system, the police would be able to recover their full costs. The Countryside Alliance at the time agreed to these proposals, however, so far only three forces have implemented any sort of online portal, and we appear to be no closer to a complete online system that was promised.
With the Home Office dragging their feet over the current firearms licensing medical procedure, many licensing departments have taken the decision to bypass the official guidance in a bid to improve public safety. This has led to unnecessary delays and confusion among the shooting community. Lack of technological progress added to the current chaotic firearms licensing medical procedure sees the firearms licensing system in complete disarray.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Licence holders cannot be expected to pay the cost of the abject failure to reform outdated, inefficient and obsolete processes.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.
“The Home Office’s priority should be on fixing the current medical evidence issues and bringing the licensing process into the 21st century instead of considering increased fees. The Home Office are ill-advised to go down this route whilst the shooting community is receiving such a sub-par service.”