Firearms licensing is in crisis, Parliamentary committee hears

The firearms licensing system in England and Wales is “largely unprofessional, overburdened and poorly resourced, putting public safety at risk.”

That’s what the British Association for Shooting and Conservation has told a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into policing priorities.

BASC’s written submission to the inquiry is a highly critical of the current situation across the 43 firearms licensing departments in England and Wales and says the system is “in crisis.”

The inquiry is focusing on the state of policing in England and Wales, highlighting low public confidence and damaging high-profile cases. It will examine what a modern police service should look like and how to ensure the highest standards amongst police officers.

BASC’s submission, which has now been published, concludes: “Firearms licensing is in crisis. The 43 licensing authorities in England and Wales are unable to manage their workload, with some refusing to process grants and many taking more than a year to process renewals. A largely unprofessional, overburdened and poorly resourced police licensing service puts public safety at risk.”

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “Although firearms licensing is only a microcosm of the total policing output, the issues raised by the Home Affairs Committee are reflective of the current licensing system we are witnessing.

“While the committee will most likely stick to producing higher level recommendations, BASC felt it necessary to feed its view of the current state of firearms licensing into the process.

“BASC’s written submission will make tough reading for many chief constables and firearms licensing managers. It highlights the current delays and significant inconsistencies across the 43 firearms licensing departments.

“BASC proposes the establishment of an independent regulatory body to oversee licensing departments. This will help begin to rebuild trust with the shooting community and boost performance and standards – key aims of the Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry.”

Join Over 100,000 Fellow Attendees & Visitors

Sign up to our Newsletter today.