Licensing set to rise up to £200.

BASC has criticised suggestions by the Government that shooters could soon be asked to pay up to £200 for their firearms and shotgun licensing ? an increase of 300%.

Crime prevention minister, James Brokenshire, announced last week a review of fees was under way to ensure the cost of the licensing scheme was met by shooters.

He said: ?We have been working on an urgent review around the licence fees so they are on a full-cost-recovery basis. It doesn?t seem right the police should be bearing a number of those costs.?

BASC?s director of firearms, Bill Harriman, said: ?We want a consistent approach so all police forces follow Home Office guidelines. This is not being done across the board. They cannot ask for ?full cost recovery? on licence fees before they show that they are efficient, that costs are minimised and that a standardised approach to licensing is applied across the country.?

The cost of a firearm or shotgun certificate is £50 with a renewal cost of £40.

An unnamed firearms licensing officer told the BBC that police forces recovered only a quarter of the cost of the work involved in licensing and renewals from the cost of the licence.

However, Bill Harriman said that his experience of working with BASC?s members showed that approaches by police firearms licensing departments were often inconsistent and inefficient.

He said: ?Police inefficiency must not be rewarded by the Government. We want a full and thorough examination of licensing procedures across every police force in the country to make sure they are adhering to Home Office guidelines and applying a consistent and practical approach to firearms licensing.?

?Firearms licensing has to do two things. It has to protect public safety and the peace, and to allow the continued lawful use of firearms. Protecting public safety is a public good, therefore it is not unreasonable that part of the cost should be borne by the public purse.?

The Countryside Alliance?s deputy chief executive, Rob Gray, agreed.

He said: ?Fees have not risen for more than 10 years, so a review is unsurprising, but it is our view the level of fees must reflect the balance that exists within the firearms licensing process.?

?Any suggestion the entire cost burden should fall on the certificate holder is wrong. While licensing provides a service to those who wish legitimately to possess firearms, it also provides a service to the public in terms of ensuring safety and controlling crime, so we are continually told. Therefore, the public safety element of the licensing process rightly falls on the public purse and must continue to do so.?

Mr Brokenshire also criticised the three police forces that recently announced they would scrap automatic face-to-face renewal interviews.

He said: ?We expect every police force to make full checks on all those applying for or renewing licences. Chief constables have a duty to provide assurance to the communities they serve that the public will be protected.?

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