A reader writes with his experience of firearms licensing - having applied on 1 April 2016 and, at time of writing, still waiting for a certificate.

I read with particular interest David Frost’s article about the terrible state of the UK firearms licensing process. I am unfortunate enough to fall under the catchment of the Essex firearms team, despite being a stone’s throw from Suffolk (which appears to be delivering reasonable standards).

You may find it interesting to know that service standards have further deteriorated. An existing shotgun certificate holder, I applied for my firearms certificate with a vast amount of information and permission slips on 1 April 2016 (the irony now becoming clear). I received a letter two months later acknowledging my application and advising of a 40-week (280 days) application period, which is far in excess of the dreadful levels referred to (220 days) in David’s article.

It seems that I have 70 days yet to wait, though I still have had no contact from a firearms enquiry officer to arrange an interview so I doubt this target will be met. My SGC expires at the end of December 2019; perhaps I should send that in for renewal now! The police do a difficult job and I have the utmost respect for them. However, when a neighbouring force can deliver the same process in less than a 12th of the time, surely the offending force should be held accountable?

In this year’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections the eventual successful candidate made this comment: “Essex Police currently have a target of 40 weeks to process new firearms and shotgun certificates. This clearly goes well beyond the time needed to make the necessary background checks and can be a problem for rural businesses that need to use these essential countryside tools. If elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, I will make it my business to bring this down. Other forces manage to turn around applications in less than 10 weeks.”

Interestingly, when I wrote to him recently to enquire as to the progress he was making, I received no reply. It will be interesting if it turns out that service levels have further deteriorated.

Name and address supplied