Proposed increases in licensing fees have only been put on ice and sooner, not later, we will all be paying more for certificates.

There was talk of fees going up to an eye watering £110 by the next election but this now won’t happen until a Home Office working party completes an in-depth study of the present licensing system and the cost to police of issuing certificates. Talk about trying to plait soot!

Highs and lows
By my reckoning it’s a near impossible task to settle on a true figure because the service we get from the police varies so enormously between constabularies. Highly efficient firearms departments appear able to keep costs to a reasonable level but the really bad ones out there either can’t, or won’t. Just be thankful then that certificate fees aren’t determined by where we live because if they were, you can bet some of us would be faced with truly shocking charges!

Both the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Countryside Alliance are involved in talks with the Home Office and each recognise that fees need to rise. However they are hammering home the message that if the cost of a certificate does go up, then so too should the level of service to gun owners.

But don’t be surprised if today’s poor performers continue to drag their feet tomorrow.

Train and airline companies have, by law, to compensate travellers for delays and poor service, so why not the police? Having to pay compensation to certificate holders left waiting months for straightforward renewals might just help focus a few minds in the worst managed of our firearms departments.

It’s the least we should expect.