BASC and other shooting organisations have welcomed the newly published guidance on fi rearms licensing. The guidance, which was produced by the Home Office in consultation with the police, as well as BASC and others, aims to reduce bureaucracy for the police and shooters, as well as improving efficiency and consistency within the system. The process of applications should be simplified, and a robust line has been laid down for dealing with applicants with a history of domestic violence.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said he believed it was a dramatic improvement on the 2002 Home Office guidance to the police. Mr Harriman told Shooting Times: “BASC has been closely involved in the development of this guidance with the police and the Home Office. We believe that, though not perfect, the guidance is considerably improved and should be of general benefit to the shooting community.

“It will also ensure that those who should not possess firearms because of domestic violence can be spotted early in the system and dealt with. The trick now is to ensure that all police forces follow the guidance. This has been a problem in the past, but we will be putting that on the table in the Home Office Firearms Fees Working Group as a measure of efficiency against which the police should be judged.”

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, who is the chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group, told Shooting Times: “I am pleased that this guidance has been published and see it as a way to improve safety and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy while providing a good service to applicants.”

There was more good news for certificate holders in the form of the Home Office starting a co-operative process with the shooting community to assess the correct fees payable for licensing. In the short term, licensing fees will not be increased. The Home Office Firearms Fees Working Group will include BASC’s Bill Harriman and Christopher Graffius. Other fieldsports and landowning organisations, such as the National Farmers’ Union and the Country, Land & Business Association, may join as corresponding members. The group will be meeting throughout next year to deconstruct and examine the processes involved in issuing and renewing licences and attribute costs to each step. The costs can then be allocated to the shooting community or the public purse, according to Treasury guidelines. The group will also look at improvements in the efficiency and delivery of the system.

Bill Harrmin said: “BASC welcomes the approach by the Home Office. This promises to be the most thorough examination of the system, which should produce a fair and just outcome on fees. We have given the Home Office an assurance that we will put the work in to achieve this and will engage constructively in the process.”

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