Forces showing ‘some improvement’ in firearms licensing
There has been “some improvement” in firearms licensing performance by police forces across England and Wales according to the latest review by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Based on figures for firearm (FAC) and shotgun (SGC) certificate grants and renewals and coterminous grants, renewals and variations, the best performing forces on average application processing times in 2019 were Cleveland, Essex and Lincolnshire.
The bottom three were West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester Police and Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
BASC’s firearms officer Rory O’Loughlin, who coordinated the research, said: “Things have stayed largely the same as the previous year – what we have gained with one hand we seem to have lost with the other.”
Mr O’Loughlin said 2018 and 2019 were classed as a ‘dip years’, where there was reduced demand on firearms licensing.
The first ‘dip period’ was created when certificate terms were changed from three to five years in duration. Consequently, the five-year cycle now comprises three ‘busy’ years and two ‘quieter’ years, said Mr O’Loughlin. This change in certificate terms created a vacuum in the process that now repeats on a cyclical basis with some forces implementing measures to balance out the “peaks and troughs”.
BASC’s third annual review found South Wales Police, Dorset Police and Warwickshire Police had shown the greatest improvement in 2019 compared with the previous year, while those forces with “the greatest deterioration” were Durham, West Midlands and Lancashire.
The research shows the mean average for FAC grants is 61 days – an improvement on last year’s figure of 69.
SGC grants improved for the second year in a row, from a 68-day average in 2017 to 61 days in 2018 and 59 days in 2019.
Coterminous grants also showed minor improvement at an average of 57 days compared with 58 days the previous year and 63 days in 2017.
However, renewals have worsened marginally across the board, with FACs being processed in an average of 50 days, up from 48 days in 2018, which was down from 53 days the previous year.
SGC renewals slowed to the 2017 average of 43 days compared with a 39-day average in 2018, while coterminous renewals crept up to 48 days from 46 in 2018. They were 52 in 2017.
Finally, variation waiting remained the same as last year at 12 days on average (13 days in 2017).
Mr O’Loughlin said: “All police forces should be striving towards providing an efficient, cost-effective, robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.
“We will continue to monitor the situation as we enter a busy period in firearms licensing.”
The latest table is based on figures from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019, and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cell shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days.
The table can be found here https://basc.org.uk/firearms/firearms-licensing-league-table/