A rise of up to 88% in licensing fees for shotgun and firearms certificate holders has been proposed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
The increases are outlined in a briefing paper prepared for the Home Office by ACPO’s Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group.
If the proposals are accepted, they would increase the cost of obtaining a firearm or shotgun certificate from £50 to £93.80 — a rise of 88%.
Standard certificate renewals would rise from £40 to £66, an increase of 65% cent.
Additionally, ACPO is proposing the introduction of new charges for licensing clayshoots and other purposes.
The increases are based on the concept of “full cost recovery” from the licence holder, despite the fact that licensing of firearms is currently carried out partially at the public expense in order to reflect the fact that licensing is for the public’s, not the shooting community’s, benefit.
Since 1920, the police have been required by law to administer the licensing system, yet the ACPO paper claims Firearms licensing is not a part of core policing duties and therefore the cost of firearms licensing should not be borne by the public purse.
Apart from the increased certification fees, the document proposes the introduction of new fees, including a £110 fee to license land for a clay pigeon shoot, a £96 fee for a change of address and £19 to issue a temporary permit.
There is even a £10 premium charge for what is described in ACPO’s paper as an “express service”.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) reacted angrily to the proposals, saying: “In recent months the licensing process in many police force areas has become shambolic. Certificate renewals are running more than six months behind and some forces are developing their own licensing policies contrary to Home Office and ACPO guidance.”
“Others have been telling our members not to worry that their certificates are late — despite it being an absolute offence to be in possession of firearms without a valid certificate. These police forces are effectively telling our members, without any authority to do so, that it is okay for them to break a law which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.”
The NGO has written a letter to the policing minister, Nick Herbert MP, urging that the ACPO fee proposals are rejected by Government.
The letter stated: Frankly, if the fees are increased without a really serious move to sort out unfair and sloppy administration by the police, there will be real anger in the countryside. If best practice was followed, particularly in relation to routine renewals, then surely there would be savings to be made.